The Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency (HKQAA) said that the number of new certificates awarded to wine traders under its Wine Storage Management System (WSMS) has increased considerably in the past 12 months.
The wine storage standard allows the industry to take systematic and effective actions in protecting wine quality and value during storage, thereby giving consumers and wine collectors confidence in wine storage in Hong Kong, said the agency.
This initiative was part of the city’s effort to position itself as a premier wine hub in Asia and to take advantage of its close proximity to China and its burgeoning wine market.
Since 2008 when the Hong Kong Government abolished import duty on alcohol, Hong Kong has been developing strongly as a regional wine trading and distribution centre.
HKQAA partnered with wine industry experts and the HK Government to launch the WSMS certification, which was established in late 2009.
Dr Michael Lam, CEO of the HKQAA, said: “The number of new certificates granted in 2011 is up 56% compared to the previous year, demonstrating a rate of growth which far exceeds expectations.”
Hong Kong’s total wine imports for the first eight months of 2011 rose 65% to HK$6.7bn.
In addition, Hong Kong’s transaction amount for wine auctions for the first half of 2011 reached HK$250m, higher than the total amount for New York and London combined.
The certification scheme is the first of its kind in the region, and the required standards are comparable to the international practices. The standards, said the HKQAA, ensure against deterioration of wine quality during transportation, and include stringent controls on temperature and security throughout the journey.
Currently a total of 37 wine retailers and cellars in Hong Kong have obtained certification.
Meico Cheong, account manager at HKQAA, told Food Navigator-Asia that the certification is gaining popularity in mainland China as well, with several wine retailers and cellars there having already applied for certification.