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France to go ‘massive’ in China

France is planning an aggressive marketing campaign for China, with ‘massive’ supermarket launches to capitalise on initiatives already in place, French ministers announced at Vinexpo in Hong Kong.

The French are already actively encouraging the domestic wine industry in China, minister of agriculture Dominique Bussereau said, by which they hope to raise overall wine knowledge and consumption.

France has already established initiatives including wine education, joint partnerships with Chinese wine companies, and setting up experimental vineyards to expand viticultural knowledge in China.

But, foreign trade minister Christine Lagarde told delegates, ‘The portion of the market France has in China is relatively limited and we want modify that.’

Lagarde outlined a ‘matchmaking’ initiative, which in November will introduce 1,000 small and medium sized French companies to similarly sized businesses in China. ‘French products will be launched massively in large supermarkets, so that Chinese consumers can be better acquainted with them.’

She said that retail stores would be included in the programme, showcasing premium French wine, food, fashion and design. Lagarde says that the time is right to promote French wines harder, because the level of wine understanding in China has improved.

When asked about competition from New World countries in Asia, Lagarde dismissed the threat.

‘French wines are the first wines on this market. We are still the leading wine makers in China and in Asia, so clearly other players from the New World are trying to nibble at our market share and to borrow from our success.’

Lagarde’s Vinexpo visit was followed a day later by Dominique Bussereau, French minister of agriculture, who said, ‘It is of the absolute importance for us to be here. Asia is one of the leading markets of the future.’

According to figures provided by the IWSR, China represents the largest market for wine in Asia—and its thirst for imported wine has increased 150% since 2000. Imports are expected to double to 2m cases by 2010.

Written by Felicity Carter

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