When The Party’s Over…

by Jonathan Mather

While Chinese consumers slow their purchases, Hong Kong’s wine market is in freefall due to ongoing unrest and the US-China Trade War.

Imports of wine into China are down 41% YOY Jan to Aug, which tracks the 64% decline in re-exports from HK YOY according to a recent HKTDC study.

The HK wine market is taking the brunt of both sides, high inventories based on past consumption combined with dropping local and re-export demand from HK and PRC consumers alike. The 28% drop in HK imports Jan to Aug vs 2018 don’t account for the ongoing protests in HK as most of those orders delivered through August would have been placed in May-June ahead of European winery summer holidays.

One major retailer has commented off the record that wine category sales declined by over 30% YOY August and still slipping. Several major importers have stated that sales are “far below expectations” “Back to 2012 levels” or “we have given up on the budget, just focus on surviving”.

Chinese consumption patterns are also changing with source countries of imports on the move, at home consumption on the rise and the evolution of regional taste preferences.

Australian imports have made big inroads on the due to a combination of factors including import duty waiver, successful marketing campaigns and well accepted color and taste.

While France still leads, China is emerging as a desireable source of quality wines. Production levels have fallen in Chinese wineries at the same time as a new crop of quality producers have been winning awards. Hopefully this means that producers are trading quality for quantity, not a guarantee by past results.

Consumption has started to shift to in-home entertainment and drinking for health/beauty. Economic concerns combined with high markups and sometimes limited choice in restaurants and bars to encourage consumption at home.

Published by thegrapelife

Professional fermented grape taster, Jonathan Mather, originally from Michigan, now hails from the other side of the world- Hong Kong. A sense of adventure and love of exploration has taken Jonathan on some great journeys. Through a love of travel enjoy the pleasure of meeting new and interesting people, and enjoy fine food, wine and music. All of the above; Together if possible! As a classically trained chef and hotelier Jonathan is still exploring life’s pleasures. Over the past two decades, Jonathan has worked in a variety of restaurants and hotels. Passion for great food and wine experiences led to catering and events for hotels. Jonathan’s excitement to explore; meet new people and eat what they eat has led him from street taco stands in Acapulco at 3am to the heights of fine Gastronomy. Always returning for a simple repast of peasant food and great wine- a NY strip rare with salt and pepper, wedge salad, shrimp cocktail, braised osso bucco and a great bottle of wine with some good friends!! While at Michigan State, Jonathan had the honor to run a student led gourmet dinner event for over 300 guests, Les Gourmets. Experience with Les Gourmets and other events sparked a passion for event planning and catering. After graduating from Michigan State’s Prestigious School of Hospitality Business in 1997, Jonathan worked in catering and events with InterContinental Chicago. In the early 2000's Jonathan was a partner in creating YLo Epicure in Denver a gourmet deli and catering company later sold and still one of Denver's top catering offerings. Later moving to Hong Kong, Jonathan has worked in the wine and spirits import and distribution market for over a decade. After a successful chapter with Macallan in sales and marketing, continued rising to General Manager Greater South China for ASC Fine Wines, a division of Suntory. Jonathan has been consulting on import, distribution and brand management for select clients in the region.

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