Hong Kong, Asia’s Top Wine Market

March 15, 2012 Updated: March 18, 2012

A recent survey conducted by the International Wine & Spirit Research (IWSR) has revealed that Hong Kong residents are the biggest wine drinkers in Asia.

The IWSR China Wine Market Report, commissioned by the French trade group Vinexpo, showed that in 2010 the average person in Hong Kong drank 4.7 liters of wine a year. This is equivalent to 6.3 bottles, according to IWSR data.

In comparison, Japan and Singapore downed half the amount of the people of Hong Kong, while in mainland China each person drank just 1.1 liters in the same period.

Popularity of wine in Hong Kong has surged since the government lifted import duties in 2008, said Dominique Heriard Dubreuil, chief executive of Vinexpo Asia-Pacific, according to Wall Street Journal. She said, “Hong Kong is really the hub for both local consumption and as a gateway into China.”

In the four-year period ending 2010, wine consumption nearly doubled in Hong Kong and is expected to increase over the next four years to 6 liter.

David Guillon from IFL, a Hong Kong-based company that sells French wines and luxury estates, says he has made six multi-million dollar transactions in 2011.

According to him this year, the number of such purchases could double. Guillon added that 80 percent of Asian buyers who come to the IFL are customers from China and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile the top wine drinkers of the world—French and Italians—are liters ahead of Hong Kong. In France the consumption is reported as 54 liters per capita, with Italians are not far behind at 53 liters. Americans ranked 15th at 12 liters per person.

China’s Thirst

In recent years China’s 1.3 billion population and booming middle class has also taken a great interest in wines. It is now the world’s fastest-growing wine consumer and IWSR says that by 2016 the demand in China will increase to 250 million cases.
IWSR also predicts that this year China will surpass the UK, which will make it the fifth-largest wine consumer in the world.

To feed the surging market, many Chinese investors have purchased vineyards in Europe. While their European competitors settle for the large properties worth over 100 million euros ($130 million), Chinese companies still prefer the “small ticket” vineyards in the range 2-10 million euros.

Reuters reports that the state-owned grain trading giant COFCO bought the 21-hectare Chateau de Viaud for 10 million euros, while Chinese jeweller Tesiro, Longhai International Trading and H.K. A+A International Holding all bought vineyards priced between 2-6 million euros last year.