Auckland hosted the Asia Pacific Wine Festival Development Forum last month and attendees from across the wine industry have planned to hold an Asia Pacific Wine Festival in the city next April. In recognition of the quality and growing importance of New Zealand wine exports to the Asia-Pacific region, the event will bring together wineries, influential buyers, and representatives from all sectors of the wine industry drawn from across the region.
New Zealand currently exports around 90% or1.7 billion New Zealand dollars worth of the 300 million litres of wine produced by the nation annually. At the Asia Pacific Wine Festival Development Forum academics and industry professionals highlighted the exciting and dynamic potential of New Zealand wines to succeed in the Chinese and other Asian-Pacific markets thanks to both the quality of the country’s output and the geographical proximity.
The Dutch bank Rabobank recently released a report projecting the future growth of New Zealand’s wine export market, with the total value of exports expected to grow by NZ$60 million or 4% on last year during 2019.
Of particular interest is Sauvignon Blanc which has proved hugely popular across the globe. New Zealand currently produces just 1% of the world’s total wine production, yet Sauvignon Blanc-based wines constitute 86% of New Zealand’s wine exports. The variety offers strong potential for New Zealand brands looking to reach new markets and convert new consumers who are looking for quality and consistency.
According to New Zealand wine expert and importer Simon Zhou, New Zealand wines occupy a unique and growing place in the Chinese wine market as premium wines which retail at between 130 to about 350 RMB.
Zhou spent 15 years living in New Zealand and has been involved with the New Zealand wine industry since 1996. He explains that the history of importing New Zealand wines to China is still relatively young; “the import tax for alcoholic beverages was lowered from 2004, a drop from I think 89% to 49%, so we saw an opportunity in bringing products from New Zealand.”
Zhou currently works with 13 different New Zealand wineries whose products he imports to China, and for Zhou the future looks bright for Kiwi products; “the middle of the market is doing very well, and New Zealand accounts for 1% of total wine imports into China.”
Zhou champions New Zealand wines thanks to “the aromatic properties, the purity of New Zealand wines, which is not seen anywhere else in the world because of the unique climatic conditions.” His main focus at the moment is educating Chinese consumers on the quality and unique flavor profile of New Zealand white wines since traditionally these consumers tend to prefer red wines. Already his company has achieved considerable success, and Zhou predicts a continued 10% growth into the coming years as Chinese wine drinkers start to realize and appreciate high quality aromatic white wines.