“The Fine Wine Market is Back”: Key Trends in the Chinese Market – from a Key Importer

COFCO has 400 wine shops specialised in importing wines into China, 1000 distributors, and a professional E-commerce team selling wines to consumer by all channels. We asked General Manager Castle Li what he sees as being the most important trends in wine sales are in his territory at the moment.

With the growing of Chinese middle class, there is rising demand for quality wines. Wines selling between 15 euros to 30 euros are growing in volume. 2nd and 3rd tier cities are growing fast. In these cities, wine brands and channel brands are both very important. For example, wine brands like Penfolds are doing well due to greater public awareness. Channel brands like COFCO are growing fast too because they are well recognised in all over China and have national trust because the brand is government-owned.

The fine wine market is back and the consumer is the primary customer now. They care about authentic, good conditions and value for money. The consumers are becoming increasingly international, the information and prices are very transparent, so the margin for the fine wine is lower than before.

Most consumers still need guidance in their wine purchases. That’s why we have been working with James Suckling, introducing his rating and notes into China as a reference. We also have 9 full-time wine educators to support distributors at professional events.

What are you primarily looking for at Vinexpo Bordeaux?

We are looking for some top brands or boutique brands, especially from certain regions like Burgundy, Alsace, etc. This year’s partner country is Spain.

What are your thoughts on Spanish wines, and what other regions are you finding the most interesting?

We are exclusive distributors for all Faustino group brands, including Faustino from Rioja and Portia from Douro. For Spanish wines, we believe in the quality wine instead of entry level wines. They have great value for money, and it’s proven in the China market. Faustino is selling well in our COFCO wine & wine shops, among our top 5 brands, with McGuigan from Australia, Antinori from Italy, Santa Rita from Chile and Black Stallion from Napa.

WE ARE LOOKING FOR SOME TOP BRANDS OR BOUTIQUE BRANDS, ESPECIALLY FROM CERTAIN REGIONS LIKE BURGUNDY, ALSACE, ETC.

What are your secrets for getting the best out of a busy show like Vinexpo? *

Usually we have detailed agenda for our meetings and make appointments first. For some important meetings, we already have discussed by phone and are here for some unfinished topics only. It’s more efficient.


Photo: Castle Li, General Manager, COFCO