By Andrew Starke
The NSW Government last week signed an agreement with the state-owned, Shanghai-based Bright Food under which the Chinese company will target investment opportunities in sugar, dairy and wine operations in NSW.
While the main focus of the deal has so far been the sugar industry, speculation is rife that Bright Foods is pressuring Foster’s to separate its wine and beers business completely, following its recent decision to demerge the two operations.
According to The Australian, the group's vice-president, Ge Junjie, who has been visiting Australia this week, has been urging Foster's to split its wine division into separate assets and has particular interest in the Rosemount brand.
China is the largest Asian market for Australian wine, with exports in the year to March 2009 valued at more than $81 million.
In related news, Chinese consumers’ growing thirst for premium Western Australian wine has led to a new book profiling top local wineries.
WA Agriculture and Food Minister, Terry Redman, will tonight (June 28) launch the ‘Western Australia Wineries’ book, as part of a WA wine masterclass in Shanghai.
The publication is printed in Mandarin and features 100 local wineries.
“This State already has a strong trading association with China in the resources sector and with sales of wool and grains in the agricultural sector,” Redman said.
“It is promising that our premium wine industry is gaining the attention of consumers in China, but to date there has not been a Chinese language book with information on WA wineries for this market.”
The Minister said despite the tough global economic climate impacting on wine exports, China was a major growth market for WA.
The annual value of WA wine exports to China has almost doubled over the past two years to an estimated $10 million.
“In terms of future growth, China has a huge consumption base which is expected to grow to 1.26 billion bottles of wine in 2013,” Redman said.
“Even if this State’s wine industry can capture a small portion of that, it will have a significant impact on our exports.”
The book’s launch will coincide with WA Wine Master Class events in Shanghai and Beijing, which form part of the 2010 World Expo.
More than 3,000 copies will go to importers, distributors and leaders in the Chinese wine industry.
A further 500 copies will be distributed to Chinese government offices.