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China will import less over the next four years: Vinexpo research

China will import wine at a slower pace as the country's domestic wine production increases - while the world's most populous nation is set to become the world’s second-biggest wine consumer by 2016.

Domestic production of wine in China is set to rise…

Competition for space in China’s wine market is set to intensify in the next few years: China’s wine market will still expand by 40% in volume over the next four years, but opportunities for foreign brands will be more limited.

Figures released jointly by wine trade show Vinexpo and research group IWSR show that between 2007 and the end of 2011, wine sales in China rose much faster, by 144% in volume, than they will for the next four years.

Alongside the predicted slowdown, Chinese wine production is growing considerably.

Since 2007, the country has risen from 10th to eighth in the global wine production league table, and it is expected to displace Australia and Chile to become the world’s sixth biggest producer in 2016.

‘It will be more challenging, and especially for France [market leader], because everybody wants to go there now,’ Xavier de Eizaguirre, chairman of Vinexpo, told Decanter.com.

However, de Eizaguirre said the speed of growth in China remains ‘incredible’ compared to many other markets, and its per capita consumption is still only 1.6 litres a year.

‘China will bypass the US very soon,’ he said. ‘The forecast for 2016 is 250m cases. The US is about 350m, so they’re getting very close.’

In value terms, China should overtake the UK to become the world’s second biggest wine consuming nation by value in 2016, with sales of US$16.7bn.

More than a third of foreign visitors to Vinexpo 2013, to be held in Bordeaux in June, are expected to come from Asia.

Most of the other figures released by Vinexpo showed a continuation of existing trends. Consumption in the UK, for example, will continue to fall up to 2016, by around 4% on current levels.

However, sparkling wines and still wine priced above US$10-a-bottle will buck this trend.

Globally, wine consumption is expected to rise by 5.3% between 2012 and the end of 2016, to 2.87bn cases, while worldwide production will fall by around 2%.

Written by Chris Mercer

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