Paris | Reuters –– Wine exporters toasted an upturn in Chinese wine consumption in 2015 after a two-year decline, as a growing taste there for reds helped global wine trade expand, the International Vine and Wine organization (OIV) said Monday.
Chinese imports jumped 44 per cent to 5.5 million hectolitres, while overall consumption in the country grew by three per cent to nearly 16 million hectolitres (one hectolitre=100 litres).
“Chinese domestic demand was the single biggest contributor, in volume terms, to growth in trade in 2015,” the OIV said in a report.
A decrease in consumption in 2013 and 2014 had been attributed to a government crackdown on lavish gifts.
Last year’s growth showed the enduring popularity of red wine among middle-class Chinese, drawn by what they see as a status symbol also offering health benefits, OIV director general Jean-Marie Aurand said at a news conference in Paris.
The recovery in demand suggested that a de-stocking phase in the Chinese market was over, he said.
The improved trend in China, the world’s fifth largest wine consumer, helped global trade rise by nearly two per cent in volume to 104.3 million hectolitres, and by 10.6 per cent in value terms to 28.3 billion euros (C$40.95 billion), the OIV said.
The continuing shift toward wine in China has also led the country to rapidly expand its vineyards. Last year, the country reinforced its position as the world’s second-largest grower by area after Spain.
China had edged ahead of France in 2014 in area cultivated, and added another 34,000 hectares last year to reach 830,000 hectares, although its production fell to 11 million hectolitres from 11.6 million.
France maintained its position as the top exporter by value, with 29 per cent market share, according to OIV estimate. French exporters had reported in February record wine and spirits exports in 2015.
Spain increased its lead as the biggest exporter by volume, with 24 million hectolitres shipped against 20 million the previous year, the OIV said.
The U.S. reinforced its spot as the world’s leading wine consumer, with demand rising by one per cent to 31 million hectolitres.
Global demand in 2015 was little changed at 240 million hectolitres, in keeping with a stable trend since the 2008 financial crisis, the OIV said.
Italy reclaimed from France the top spot in global wine production, with 49.5 million hectolitres against 47.5 million in its European neighbour.
Canada, by comparison, consumed 4.8 million hectolitres and produced about 570,000 hectolitres of wine in 2012, the most recent year of OIV data available for the country.
Organic wine was continuing to expand and was thought to account for between eight and 12 per cent of worldwide production, the OIV said Monday.
— Reporting for Reuters by Pascale Denis and Gus Trompiz.