Foreign companies have opened their eyes to China’s wine market, which has grown at an impressive rate in the past 5 years. The most popular option when selling wine in China is to first identify and establish partnerships with local wine importers and distributors.
These companies can help you to get your products online and on the shelves quickly, with low upfront costs. That said, finding a distributor on your own can be a challenging task. Therefore, I’ve written this article where I explain about China’s wine market, how you can find wine distributors, and some of the top importers and distributors.
China’s Wine Market
China’s wine market has exploded and sales volumes grew almost 100% from 2013 to 2017. However, even if the Chinese continue to develop a strong craving for foreign wines, the market has become more stagnant recently and the competition among foreign and local brands intensifies.
In 2018, the demand for wine decreased by 9%. At the same time, imports by volume decreased by 14% and imports by value decreased as much as 20% during the first half of 2019. The number of wine importers has decreased by around 35%, so there’s an evident trend that the wine market is in a turbulent situation, at least temporarily.
Countries such as France, Chile, and Australia will benefit from the ongoing trade war between China and the US, getting significantly lower import duties and a price advantage. Yet, the ongoing trade war can also have a long-lasting negative impact on China’s economy as a whole, which will inevitably affect its wine market.
Looking at local consumption and compared to many Western countries, wine is mainly bought for festivities and not for personal consumption during weekends in China. Also, it’s not only consumed by wealthy Chinese, but younger people who buy wines in the low to medium price range.
Not to forget, a couple of years ago, the government started to crack down on local corruption, a reason why the demand for high-end wines decreased. Wine in the higher price segment is predicted to be hit the hardest in an economic recession and with future uncertainty.
How can I find wine distributors?
Finding and connecting with Chinese wine distributors is easier said than done, unless you’ve been contacted by distributors directly.
That said, partnerships don’t necessarily need to be established word-of-mouth or through connections.
Instead, you can go for any of the following options when searching for Chinese wine distributors.
3rd Party Distribution Management Companies
It’s easy to find Tmall Partners online, but I can’t say the same for foreign-owned distribution management companies. They often focus less on online marketing and are not as active on online forums.
Some clear benefits of working with distribution management companies is that they do market analysis, are not as picky as Tmall Partners, and can help you to get in touch with Chinese distributors within a short time frame.
Also, if you manage to get your products registered with the relevant Chinese authorities, you can list your products on local eCommerce platforms such as Taobao.com and Tmall.com.
So how’s the process when you have found a local distribution company? Below I’ve listed some of the main steps.
- The distribution company will normally initiate the discussion to understand your company’s objectives, current status, and financial results
- They later do a market analysis to check the competition and if your products are already sold through grey channels (e.g. Daigou)
- If there’s any interest, they translate your product materials into Chinese and list the products online so that you get exposure to Chinese distributors
- Ongoing outreach to distributors and on-site meetings
They sometimes also promote your wine products on the biggest trade fairs, if that’s what you want
Instead of focusing hard on commissions, the companies often collect fees by selling packages, including services for your company to get started. They also help with relevant product registrations, label filing, customs registrations, CIQ registrations, and more.
Finding Wine Distributors Online
This option is often more time-consuming, but costs you less money, of course. It can also be more risky as you might face the risk of coming across a distributor who won’t take you seriously. Having said that, there are plenty of reputable and award-winning foreign-owned companies that help wine producers with imports and the distribution of wines.
Just keep in mind that they can be more picky and many primarily sell high-end wines.
Connections and Word-of-Mouth
It’s not rare that Chinese distributors reach out to foreign wine producers directly. This is often done through connections and worth of mouth. Thus, if you know a person who already sell products to a local distributor in China, it can be worthwhile contacting him or her for more information and recommendations.
Chambers of Commerce
Embassies and Chambers of commerce sometimes help fellow-countrymen to connect with local partners in China. It can be worthwhile contacting your country’s Embassy or Chamber of commerce for more information.
Try to detect a couple of big trade fairs and either visit these on your own, or let a third party visiting the trade fairs on your behalf. This is often a complementary step to the other options listed above.
Some of the biggest trade fairs for wine products in China include:
- Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair
- Worlds Leading Wines (Beijing and Shanghai)
- INTERWINE CHINA
- Prowine China
Top Wine Distributors in China
Below I’ve listed some of the biggest and most reputable wine importers and distributors in China.
DCT Wines started in 2004 and focuses primarily on French quality wines. It’s a fully French-owned importer that also acts as a distributor. In 2008, the company was awarded the 2008 SME China Entrepreneur Prize by the French Chamber of Commerce.
All the wines are imported directly from France to China under strict temperature controls, it currently offers around 60 different wines coming from famous French areas.
- Phone: +86 400 632 8946
- Email: contact@DCTwines.com
- Website: Click here
- Address: 17th Floor, Unit 4 Huaihua Dasha, Shengli Road, Dalian 116021, Liaoning
Miguel Torres S.A. founded TORRES CHINA in 1997 is a leading wine distributor in China. In 2007, Baron Philippine de Rothschild became a shareholder of the company and the company manages 400 different wines from 14 countries, having offices in eight cities.
Over the years, TORRES CHINA has developed a professional sales team and partnered up with restaurants and major hotel chains, such as Marriott, Shangri-La, Hyatt, and Hilton.
- Phone: +86 21 62677979
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: Click here
- Address: 3/F Building 4, No. 990 ChangPing Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai
Fancy Cellar was established by Sophie and Bertrand, originally from France but living in Shanghai. Not only do they help foreign companies to import and distribute wine in China, they’ve also launched various digital services that help people to select wines.
The company sells wine to various high-end hotels, including Waldorf Astoria and Shangri-La. Keep in mind that they source all the wines from vineyards, as such, they normally don’t deal with middlemen and resellers. This enables them to offer free memberships and competitive prices.
- Phone: +86 216 047 8619
- Email: contact@FancyCellar.com
- Website: Click here
- Address: Rooms 417-419, 126 Xujiahui Road, Shanghai 200025
Xianyu Trading (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.
Xianyu Trading Shanghai (XTS) is a fully foreign-owned trading company that specializes in the imports of spirits and wines in China. The same as it goes with other accredited distribution companies, XTS assures top quality and has a close supervision of the imports of wines. The company registered in Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone in Shanghai in 2010.
- Phone: +86 21 6439 9335
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: Click here
- Address: 2525 Zhongshan West Rd, Shanghai
Arion Spirit & Wine
Arion Spirit & Wine are not located in the mainland, but in Hong Kong. They focus primarily on exporting and importing wine to mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau. Working with Arion Spirit & Wine is easy as they take care of the whole export and import process, and the local distribution. In addition to the above-mentioned countries, they have also imported wines to countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Over the years, Arion Spirit & Wine has won various rewards and recognition. Products are accepted through a process where a panel of experts check the wine, including winemakers from Napa Valley (US), Executive buyers from the National Chain Retailers, and more.
Worth mentioning is that they can private label your products, no matter which country the products come from.
- Phone: +852 2790 1600
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: Click here
- Address: Workshop no. 12, 11/F., New Commerce Centre, 19 On Sum Street, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong