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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Why is China such an important market for Georgian wine?

by Guranda Dzamelashvili

06.04.2016. China’s wine consumption will grow from 40 percent to 60 percent by 2018, according to the study published by economists in the University of Adelaide’s Economics Research Center.

While rice wine has traditionally been the most common in Asia, income growth in China and a preference swing toward grape wine is gradually changing the region’s consumption situation. China exports approximately 300 billion bottles annually and the top five importing countries are France, Australia, Spain, Chile and Italy.

For Georgia, wine exports to China haven’t increased that much since last year. According to the statistics of National Wine Agency, in 2015 January through February, the amount of exported bottles was 217,000, and at the same period in this year, the number is slightly more, 219,349 bottles.

Overall, China is in the fourth place for Georgia by exporting annual 2,672,154 bottles of wine. Russia is leading the top five with 18,308,177 bottles, followed by Kazakhstan –5,195,949, Ukraine –3,412,453, and Poland –1,600,302.

Economic and political turmoil in Russia and Ukraine caused a decrease of Georgian wine exports. Russia(-51 percent) and Ukraine(-56 percent).The decline in exports was reflected in the annual rate of the total, which has reduced by 39 percent compared with 2014.

If we consider these consequences, the Chinese market will stay very important for Georgian viticulture.

“Our goal is to increase wine export to China. I cannot tell you how much it will increase in percentage, but similar growth is expected as it was in previous years,” said the chairman of the National Wine Agency, Giorgi Samanishvili.

He adds that the agency carried out some promotional activities in 2016, which has increased awareness about Georgian wine in China.
“We have a marketing strategy and plan of action for all strategic markets; for the USA, Europe or China. We will follow this strategy in future, as well in order to increase the awareness about Georgian wine.”

Increased wine export to China is considered very positive, but also should be noted that in 2015 the government spent more than 10 million Gel for the marketing of Georgian wine, which is much larger amount of money than the amount spent in previous years.

Then Minister of Agriculture Otar Danelia announced that it would be better if the companies would be marketing themselves more actively.

“Totally, approximately 10 million dollars is spent, although, in the previous years, the marketing funds were five times less. I think even this amount of money is not enough, because we have new promising markets. However, it is important for private businesses in this direction to do their own work and be active as much as possible,” said Danelia. The Ministry of Agriculture financially supports Georgian wine. The agency will advertise Georgian wine in China this year too, and in this regard a number of events took place this year.

A recent noteworthy event was an opening Georgian pavilion “Tamada” on March 29 in one of the China city of Urumqi (read more: Georgian wine exported to China’s Xinjiang province to increase threefold)

The Georgian Wine House official opening ceremony was attended by the Ambassador of Georgia in the Republic of China Davit Aptsiauri and the chairman of the Partnership Fund Davit Saganelidze, who announced that the project, which aims to make Georgian wine more popular in China, wants to establish an additional 100 Georgian wine houses. All these things will contribute to the growth of export of Georgian wines and Georgian wine industry development in China.

For the same reason, in July 2015 a Georgian wine center opened in Beijing, which organizes different educational seminars about Georgian wine culture and tastings. At the same time, the Georgian wine was represented in China at all important international exhibitions. There were organized wine tours for Chinese wine professionals, for the media and wine lovers. Chinese media published promotional articles on Georgian wine, prepared special reports on television, and Georgian wine was advertised through local social networks as well.

At the moment in China, there are four Georgian wine salons, two Georgian wine and culinary centres, and three Georgian wine shops where visitors are introduced to the culture and traditions of Georgian wine.

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