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Wine for Asia 2004 report

The second edition of one of the Far East’s newest wine fairs, Wine for Asia 2004, was a resounding success compared to its inauguration last year – but there is growing concern that there are simply too many wine exhibitions held in Asia.

The 4-day event, held in Singapore last month attracted trade exhibitors from over 18 countries, and over 12,000 visitors, a 200% increase in numbers on last year.

There was a special tasting for trophy winning wines from the Decanter World Wine Awards 2004 , held in London in April this year. Award winning wines from the Mundus Vini 2004 Awards in Germany, as well as the Wine Style Asia 2004 Awards in Singapore, were also available for tastings.

Organisers are hoping to increase the number of exhibitors by 50% next year – but with international wine fairs already held in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and the major Vinexpo fair in Tokyo, some insiders fear exhibitors will be discerning when it comes to deciding which to attend. Wine for Asia may not be abe to compete against established events such as Vinexpo Tokyo.

‘From an outsider’s point of view, I think at some stage, exhibitors will ask themselves if they really need to be at so many exhibitions,’ one senior commentator said.

At the event’s opening, Heng Chee How, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said that although Singapore does not produce any wine, it has become a major import and re-export centre serving the wine industry over the whole of Asia. In the first nine months of 2004, Singapore imported close to 10.5m bottles of wine.

But others believe Singapore should capitalise on its postion as the hub of the burgeoning Southeast Asian wine market.

Ch’ng Poh Tiong, Decanter columnist and publisher of the Wine Review, the official magazine of Wine for Asia said, ‘I believe that next year’s event will be as successful. But with China and Japan sharing a large chunk of the Asian economy, in Singapore we should focus on establishing ourselves as the core of the Southeast Asian wine market.

‘Take Indonesia for example. It has a population of over 210 million. And once the economy improves, there is a huge potential market.’

Written by Melissa Zehnder

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