See the top 10 in the chart below.
What China’s wine import data for 2017 tells us
Fears of trouble appear premature
Some industry observers voiced concerns last year about the amount of imported wine stocks awaiting sale in mainland China. Is the country storing up trouble?
It’s hard to get precise numbers on stock levels, but what we know now is that importers were still placing significant orders in 2017.
Imports of bottled wines rose by 14.6% in volume and 16.4% in value in 2017 versus 2016, according to the latest Chinese customs figures, reaching an equivalent value of 2.55 billion US dollars.
If bulk and bottled wines are added together then 745 million litres of wine worth 2.8 billion US dollars reached China during the year 2017—a 16.9% increase in volume and 18% increase in value.
Bilateral free trade agreements are paying dividends
Australia and Chile continued to take advantage of lower import tariffs on their wines.
Imports of Australian bottled wines increased by 33.3% in volume and 25.8% increase in value compared to 2016.
Import tariffs on Australian wines entering China fell from 14% to 2.8% on 1 January 2018. The tariff is set to be reduced to zero in 2019, under the terms of a bilateral trade deal signed in 2015.
China also has a free trade deal with Chile, and the latter saw wine shipments to China rise by 25% last year, according to Chinese customs data.
But France is still top, and US premium wines did well, too
France remained China’s top source of imported bottled wines in 2017, with imports up by 14% in volume to 218 million litres, although only 8.8% in value, to the equivalent of one billion US dollars.
On average, French wines entering China fetched 4.82 USD per litre (3.61 USD per bottle) in 2017.
Wines from the US saw a slight decrease in import volume, but the value of imports jumped by 44.1% versus 2016 – suggesting a shift towards premium wines.
As a result, the average price of wines from the US hit 7.85 USD per litre (5.89 USD per bottle)
China isn’t just interested in the biggest producer countries
Imports from Georgia rose by 45% in both volume and value in 2017, albeit from a low base . The country just got its nose ahead of Argentina in 2017 in terms of volume.
China and Georgia signed a free trade agreement in May 2017, which including waiving the 14% import tariff on Georgian wines.
A 4.5% rise in the volume of sparkling wine imports was relatively modest by China’s standards, but there was a 27.2% increase in the average price per litre, to 5.74 in US dollars.