Overall data of Italian wine imports were remarkable in 2017, and the import volume and value of bottled wines showed double-digit growth. The growth rate of the import value exceeded import volume for 50%.
Although imports volume of Italian wine is far less than Spain, but its imports value almost equal to Spain. With the rapid increase in price on each single bottle, Italian wine imports value in 2018 is expected to be more than Spanish wines.
However, these data also showed market reflection on Italian wine sales, some of which may even be called the “bottleneck” .
Italian fine wines get popular in China
Zhang Rongxiang, an Italian wine importer based in Guangzhou, pointed out that fine wine sales accounted for major sales in their business. Unlike France, who has super large wine groups, Italian wine producers are mostly in small scale and scattered in different regions. That’s why price of Italian wine is comparatively higher than Spain and France.
Yu Hongjie, another importer based in Qingdao, also pointed out that Italian low-end wines are hard to compete with French VCE wines, nor with cheap wines from Spain and Chile. But Italian wine priced at 3-8 Euro is very competitive in China, with good cost performance and diversified styles, which attracted many wines lovers.
Jetek China Digital’s also get information from a wine chain store, “Consumers who purchased Italian wines are more personalized and professional, they are fond of Italian icon wines like Amarone and Barolo, which are recognizable in both price and taste.”
According to Zhang’s conclusion, there isn’t any increase in wines whose EXW price was 1 Euro in past two years. But the 3-5 Euro showed a large increase rate of 50%-100%.
Distributors love non-transparent price of Italian wines
Italian wine distributors in China are also characterized like Italian wine producers, dominating by small scales ones.
“The distributors of Italian wines are almost in Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang. Because many immigrants were from these areas, they touched Italian culture earlier than people in other areas, so core distributors are formed in these provinces. However, total sales of Italian wines brought by these distributors are still far less than sales done by small scaled ones”, said Yu.
These small scaled distributors choose Italian fine wines, mainly because the classification and price system of the French wine are too transparent, the profit rate is not high, and is embarrassing in finding distributors. Even fake wines usually focus on French wines. In contrast, price system of Italian wines is not so transparent, nor too many OEM wines, according to Dai.
Only fine wine hard to push up overall volume of Italian Wines
Even it was remarkable in imports value, Italian wines still meet some problems in China market.
The fourth-ranked Spain has almost reached 68 million liters of imports, 2 times more than Italy in volume. And Chile, which ranked third, imports 2 times more than Italy in volume, and imports nearly 2 times as much as Italy in value.
It can be seen that Chilean wine in China was drove by wines in different levels, but Italy is striving by only medium and high-end wines.
Ma said that although some consumers are chasing Italian fine wines, consumers’ willingness to buy wines in lower level is not strong enough to support sales.
In fact, Italy needs a leading wine brands to open up China market. But now it’s hard for Chinese to think of an Italian wine brand that they are familier with.
On the contrary, Legende, J.P. Chenet, Perfolds, Jacobs Creek, Casillero del Diablo and Sangre de Tore are brands that could be recalled and represented their countries in China market.
In terms of stimulating volume, Australian wine is the perfect example.
Italian wine performed excellently the United States, this made them puts more thoughts and attention on the US and Russia market. It still needs time for big Italian wine group or brands to develop and be the pioneer.
Here comes opportunities for Italian commercial brands
Dai analyzed, “People think that Italian wines are sour in taste. In fact, some Italian producers are adjusting taste to meet Chinese needs. I know that people who have drunk Italian wine have not mentioned acidity problem to me in recent years. In terms of the feedback I observed, some customers are highly praised the taste and quality.”
Meanwhile, the combination of classical and fashion in design, is also one of Italian wine’s distinguished characteristics.
Dai pointed out that Italian wine didn’t reach big volume yet, and small scale wineries are still in the dominating status, but this provides opportunity for Italian commercial brands.
In particular, some of the big brands in Italy are starting to pay more attention in China promotion, and the market recognition becomes higher. So it is predicted that Italian wine will certainly increase in imports volume and value in the next 3-5 years.