By James Wells

ProWine China has established itself as the pre-eminent annual exhibition in Mainland China with a large increase in both visitors and participation from Australian wineries.

This year’s event, which concluded last week in Shanghai, featured almost 700 exhibitors from 39 countries and over 14,000 trade visitors which was an increase of 14.3 per cent on the previous year following a higher level of marketing to regional cities and provinces.

Australian participation increased by one-third compared to 2016, 40 brands were on show from 20 different wine regions. This year’s Wine Australia stand, that had a waiting list of exhibitors wanting to be involved, hosted 22 wineries as well as a number of masterclasses and educational tutorials.

Wine Australia’s head of market in China, Willa Yang said ProWine China is one of the most professional and influential trade shows on the calendar.

“We’ve had incredibly positive feedback from our exhibiting partners who told us that they received strong business leads and met with new and existing customers during the show. We also see a growing interest in premium Australian wines among trade visitors. The trade show is also a great opportunity for wine sector insiders in China to learn more about the quality and regional diversity of Australia’s premium wines,” Yang said.

ProWine China is aligned with the annual ProWein exhibition in Düsseldorf which will be next held from 18-20 March 2018 in Germany. Over the next 18 months there will be three Asian based ProWine shows in Singapore (24-27 April 2018), Shanghai (13-15 November 2018) and Hong Kong (7-10 May 2018).

The global head of ProWein, Marius Berlemann said he was happy with the significant growth in the number of international wine producers and suppliers.

“The Chinese wine business is currently experiencing a shift in demand, away from only brands and pricing towards other elements including country and region of origin, grape variety and cultivation methods. Opportunity continues to flourish on China’s maturing wine market, achieving sustained growth year on year. At the same time, Chinese consumers are eager to discover wines from all parts of the world.”

Berlemann was also complimentary of the Australian participation at the event.

“Australia has done a lot of things right and it is not only the Free Trade Agreement. Australia is positioning its message to the Chinese consumer as being a very sustainable environment and that’s what the Chinese really like. I hear a lot of people saying that Australian wine is what the cool kids drink. Australia is not a trend in China, it is trendy as it is well established and we are extremely happy to see such a strong participation not only from Wine Australia but also other Australian companies and it is great to hear that there is a waiting list and we want to make sure that these people are accommodated in the future.”

This is what the Australian exhibitors told TheShout about ProWine China 2017 in Shanghai:

Philip Jeffries – D’arenberg – GM Sales and Marketing:

“This is my first time at ProWine China in Shanghai but I have visited a lot of other trade fairs before and I think this rates right up there in terms of quality customers and knowledgeable serious customers and it is right up there with all of the other international shows now.

“ProWine has been a knockout and we have seen 30 or 40 people today and I think if we have success with three or four new customers and distributors per day that is a tremendous win. With any trade fair we are always keen to see quality not quantity, and the people that we have seen have been serious and educated trade customers so for us that’s been definitely beneficial. The Chinese market has moved very quickly over the last five or six years – education has gone through the roof and they know what they are looking for and they are coming to D’arenberg for reputation, brand story and heritage which we can provide. They are not asking us about price which they would have a few years ago – they are looking for quality products they can start importing. So we have seen a mix of distributors who want to import direct from Australia as well as restauranteurs and other wholesalers who might want to buy via a network in China – so it has been a mixed bag of customers but as long as you have a strategy with how to work with all of these guys, that’s how you need to play.”

Allan Ille – Fowles Wines – Asia Pacific Export Manager:

“First time we have done ProWine – first impressions have been very good. We have had lots of people through, and we are looking at distribution and enhancing our position in China. We have distribution mainly in Guangzhou and now looking to move into Shanghai and Beijing. Lot of shaking hands, trying wines and exchanging business cards – the hardest thing is to find out who is who in the zoo. What is frightening is that 99 per cent of the people that we have spoken to are importers of wine and they are selling predominantly to restaurants and hotels. They have been interested in Shiraz, Shiraz, Shiraz – a little bit of Cabernet, but mainly Shiraz. There is not a lot of white wine being consumed. Being here is a must and if it is isn’t already it will soon be the largest and most important market for a lot of Australian wineries so you should get on board.

John Sautner – Trifon Estate Wines – International Sales Manager:

“From a foot traffic and quality of the buyers – ProWine China is the best trade show we have attended this year and last year. We have been to Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Tokyo in Japan. The Chinese market is growing very quickly, you need to be conscious that it takes time to build and you need to come back several times to build your relationships and build your market. One thing a wise person told me was that the Chinese do not do business until the third or fourth cup of tea so that means you meet them once or twice but then you have to fly back for the third or fourth time, but when you come back, the relationship normally bears fruit.”

Grant Bellve – Tyrrell’s – International Manager:

“There has been a big improvement in the quality of visitors – sommeliers, food and beverage directors as well as a lot of wine writers which has been terrific. In terms of the questions we are being asked, they seem to know the wines and are appreciate of Australian wines. It is not all about red wine, they are asking about Semillon and Chardonnay as much as about the Shiraz.

“If you asked me four or five years ago, it would have been all about Australian wine that was red and cheap with lots of alcohol, but now the questions that I am being asked are the same as those that I am being asked in New York or Dusseldorf or England. They are the correct questions about how the wine is made, what region it comes from and why it tastes like it does. It has definitely changed tremendously over the last few years. The quality of the people coming to this show and the questions we are being asked is now so much better.”

Neil Hadley MW – Wakefield Taylors – GM Export:

“We have had one of two people deep at our stand tasting wine for the majority of the show and those are customers of our distributor and potential new customers as well. The new prospects need to be converted through the follow-ups but if the general laws of prospecting work out ok using the 10 per cent rule, then we should have a good flow of new business.

“There are a lot of shows but there aren’t too many that provide a better exposure than ProWine China in Shanghai. This is my first time to come personally to this show. I have been to the ProWein show in Germany several times and I am seeing the same quality of organisation and I am sensing the same quality of trade coming through. While there are many options, I think this exhibition is a pretty good bet.”

Anthony Murphy – Trentham Estate – Winemaker and MD:

“We have found people at this show have been looking at more up-market and premium wines which is great news and certainly Australian Shiraz is the place to be. China is a big focus for us at the moment – we can see so much potential here and so much interest. This is a new and developing market so it is very exciting times. ProWine China has been excellent – we will be back for sure.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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