China has overtaken the US as the biggest wine export market for Chilean wineries in terms of value, show new figures.

Chile exported US$195 million worth of wine to China in 2016, compared to an export value of $183 million to the US and $148 million to the UK, according to Wines of Chile’s latest sales report.

The US and UK fell in value by 8% and 9% respectively versus 2015. Japan is the fourth most important market for Chile, just $6 million behind the UK in export value, cementing the growing importance of occidental markets.

The figures underline China’s growing importance to the world’s major wine producing countries.

China also became the biggest export market for Australia in 2016, which holds the second greatest market share in the country after France. The US is still France’s biggest export market by value, but 2016 was a landmark year in affirming China’s growing influence despite the devaluation of the yuan.

Each of the top five wine countries (France, Australia, Chile, Spain and Italy in order of value) reported increases in export value and volume to China in 2016. The fastest growing in value is Italy, with a 39% increase in export value since 2015. Italy is also the only country of the big five whose average bottle price went up from last year, by almost 22%, although Chile’s average bottle price remained fairly consistent, dropping by less than 0.2%

The trend does suggest that, while Chinese consumers are buying more wine, they are buying cheaper bottles than before and from a greater variety of producers.

As reported on Decanter.com sister site DecanterChina.com, this is a pattern that was anticipated by major Chinese importers and retailers, who believe it reflects more ‘normal’ wine drinkers entering a market that used to rely heavily on government officials.

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