Subscribe

Australian Wine Scam in China

By Sonya Bryskine
Epoch Times staff
Created: August 31, 2010 Last Updated: September 1, 2010
Related articles: China » Society
Print E-mail to a friend Give feedback

A Penfolds 1962 vintage Cabernet Shiraz, voted number seven in a list of 100 of the world's greatest-ever wines. Earlier this year at a Chinese trade fair Penfolds was recast as Benfolds, with parent company Foster's moving in to shut down the activity. (Greg Wood/Getty Images )

A Penfolds 1962 vintage Cabernet Shiraz, voted number seven in a list of 100 of the world's greatest-ever wines. Earlier this year at a Chinese trade fair Penfolds was recast as Benfolds, with parent company Foster's moving in to shut down the activity. (Greg Wood/Getty Images )

Australian wine has gotten a raw deal in China, after fake labels mimicking top quality brands were caught on bottles filled with cheap Chinese products.

The incidents have prompted Australian winemakers to call for diplomatic action, but so far no response has come from Beijing officials.

Emanuel Skorpos, who runs a winery in South Australia's Flinders Ranges, discovered that his own Flinders Run label was plastered on fake wine bottles, following a tip-off from the Hong Kong-based consultancy, Wine Protection Group.

"The problem we're facing as an industry is that if we leave a bitter taste in the Chinese consumer's mouth at such an early stage in our business into China, it could quickly destroy our industry," he said in an ABC Australia report.

Skorpos believes that the responsibility should fall on the Australian government to better regulate the industry.

"It's bigger than my issue," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It's about Australia's export wine market. The Australian government needs to do something."

Australia's wine exports to China comprise AU$2.5 billion (US$2.23 billion) a year. The Chinese market is the fastest growing wine consumer in the world.

According to the 2010 Australian Wine Society report, China recorded the largest increase in bottled shipments during the past year. The shipments went up 71 percent, bringing the total wine sales to 20 million liters.

This ranked China as the fourth largest market for Australian bottled shipments. Other markets to record solid growth in bottled shipments were Sweden (up 10 percent to 9 million liters), Germany (up 7 per cent to 6 million liters) and Hong Kong (up 2 per cent to 6 million liters).

However, the latest counterfeit incident does not appear to be an isolated case for Australian wine.

Earlier this year at a Chinese trade fair Penfolds was recast as Benfolds, with parent company Foster's moving in to shut down the activity.

Skorpos says smaller producers have little power to clamp down on the lucrative practices.

"We pay an export levy, a processing levy, to the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation and to the Australian government. And I would say that they go into the millions and millions of dollars," he said in the ABC report.

"How are we protected? How is our industry going to be protected against this sort of thing?"

In the year ending in March 2010, Australian wine export volumes increased by 7 percent to reach 773 million liters valued at AU$2.2 billion (US$1.96 billion).




GET THE FREE DAILY E-NEWSLETTER


Selected Topics from The Epoch Times

C W  Ellis