Vinexpo Asia: Experts on China’s wine market give advice to Australian producers

May 29, 2024
By Cody Profaca

At this morning’s Roundtable with Industry Titans panel discussion, Vinexpo Asia brought together four of the leading experts on China’s wine industry to discuss the current state of the sector along with where it might be headed. 

According to host and Founder of Vino Joy News Natalie Wang, China’s market has undergone “seismic changes in the past few years, reshaped by three years of the pandemic.” As a result, “how wine is sold, consumed, and communicated has changed significantly.”

The panel also outlined certain concerns relating to the current re-emergence of Australian wine into China. 

“A unique issue right now is that we’re going to have this tsunami of brands showing up all at the same time, which is going to crowd the space for the sales team. It’s normally more of a drip peak,” said Dan Siebers, Co-Partner of Waiju China.

Since being founded in 2014, Waiju China has grown to become China’s largest wine importer by volume. Siebers said Waiju is planning to reintroduce Australian wine into its portfolio gradually.

“I think in the short term – at least with our partners – we’re just talking about first order is what we call seeds, we’re just going to put it in a little order,” he said.

“We’ve got to wait for the tsunami to pass. Then let’s drive forward as the serious players continue on. There’s going to be a lot of opportunities.”

E-commerce expert and social media personality Xiao Pi is more optimistic about the future of Australian wine on the Chinese market: “Just come back, pretend nothing happened,” he said.

“Consumers are waiting for premium Australian wine. You guys did a fantastic job before; really, you were the number one, still in many people’s [eyes], you are still number one.”

One recommendation put forth by Xiao Pi to Australian wine producers is to “be careful about the pricing on the internet now. Never sell to nobody on the internet. You’re going to ruin your reputation because people feel they bought it too expensive. That’s the only issue that you have before. 

“You have amazing product. You have so many brands who are really capable to deliver the best in the right way.”

Dan Siebers also recommends a stronger focus on regionality in Australian wine, making the point that German wine imports into China currently struggle due to the Chinese market not understanding the regional diversity. 

“I think there’s the opportunity is to really [champion] regionality… make sure it’s clear. 

“The opportunity is then to really focus on those regions and then get people excited and differentiate in those things.”

Since the lifting of tariffs on Australian wine at the end of March this year, Australian wine has been rapidly regaining lost market share, including a growth rate of 8,000%, something Natalie Wang described as “a very encouraging sign.” 

Talking with Australian exhibitors here at Vinexpo has revealed an overarching air of optimism and positivity in relation to the renewed opportunity of importing wine into China. Drinks Trade will continue to release insights from those conversations over the coming days. 

For a recap of Vinexpo Asia Day One, click here.

Share the content