Chinese now drink more red wine than the French

red-wineChina has overtaken France and Italy to become the world’s number one consumer of red wine, although the United States remains the world’s biggest market for all types of wines.

China drank 1.865 billion bottles of red wine last year, or, in trade terms, 155 million nine-litre cases, contributing to a 136 percent increase in consumption over five years, the French trade association VINEXPO said on Tuesday.

The French buy 150 million cases of red wine a year, the Italians 141 million, the United States 134 million and Germany 112 million, according to the study.

The massive surge in Chinese consumption is in part the result of growing affluence, but also Chinese superstitions over colours, said Guillaume Deglise, the CEO of VINEXPO.

“Red is the colour of luck and good fortune and white is the colour of death” in China, Deglise said.

“So you don’t want to drink white, why would you?”

As the Chinese market matures, Deglise said he also expects to see an increase in consumption of white wines and champagne.

The United States remains the world’s top consumer of wine with sales expected to hit 385 million cases by 2017. It overtook France as the world’s largest wine consumer in 2011.

Drop in French consumption

The study reported that global wine consumption increased by 3.23 per cent between 2008 and 2012 to 2.663 billion cases, the study predicts an increase of 4.97 per cent between 2013 and 2017. But, not every market is growing. The study predicted that demand would rise 20 per cent in Asia, by 9 per cent in the United States but stagnate or even shrink in Europe.

Over the past five years, demand has fallen 5.8 per cent in Italy and 18 per cent in France. The report predicts a further 7 per cent drop in French demand over the next five years.

For that reason, said Deglise, the growth of Chinese demand was important for French producers because, “the domestic market cannot absorb the entire production.”

China, including Hong Kong, is the world’s fifth largest market for wines of all colours. The report predicted that Chinese demand would increase by 33.8 per cent to 230 million cases in 2017.

“There has been a real change in Chinese attitudes. There has been massive increase in the number of vineyards and the distribution network has multiplied,” Deglise said.

The figures were released ahead of the VINEXPO Asia-Pacific exhibition to be held in Hong Kong on May 27-29.

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