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Published on : Jun 10, 2014

The import of alcohol in China saw a slide in the first four months of 2014 largely as a result of austerity measures being brought into force. A weaker economy also meant that corporate and government budgets allocated less spends on alcohol and beverages. In value terms, alcoholic beverages saw an 8% year-on-year slide, reaching USD 847 million from January through April, as per figures provided by the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce. However, in terms of volume, imports rose by 12.9% to reach 212 million liters as consumers resorted to consuming cheaper alcoholic beverages such as beer. The demand for foreign alcohol - especially liquors and fine wine - has been on the decline after the government came down heavily on luxury products and extravagance in the backdrop of weaker economic growth. 

In the first four months of 2014, imports of liquor and wine showed a downward graph after a tough 2013 when a number of luxury products and foodstuffs were struck off gift-giving lists. Wine imports by China slid by 17.3%, touching USD 461 million in the first quarter of 2014. According to Remy Cointreau SA, the France-based company that makes Remy Martin cognac, its March operating profits in saw a dip of USD 204.3 million from a healthy 245.4 million euros during the same period the previous year, Bloomberg reported. Despite this decline, imported French wines still occupy the lion’s share of the alcohol and beverage market in China at 43%. 

Interestingly, Chinese wine expert and trader Yang Zhengjian noted that the imports of fine wine have declined as most companies continue to hold large inventories.