US alcohol firm to plug the Chinese wine brand gap

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The lack of dominance of wine brands in China spells opportunities, says MD of US wine firm
The lack of dominance of wine brands in China spells opportunities, says MD of US wine firm

Related tags: Wine, Alcoholic beverage, China

US premium alcohol specialist Winery Exchange has struck up a partnership with a local Chinese food and importing company in a bid to cash in on the lack of brands in China’s wine market, the MD said.

The US firm has partnered with the well-established food firm and importer Otis McAllister based in Hong Kong and China, in operation for more than 100 years. The Chinese food company will work as a sales and distribution arm of Winery Exchange throughout Asia.

Dan Irving, international managing director of Winery Exchange, said that opportunities in China’s wine market are rife as there are “no dominant wine brands in China other than the major Bordeaux houses”.

There are therefore big opportunities in the private label wine sector, Irving told FoodNavigator-Asia.

“There is a significant opportunity to work with local importers, trading companies, distributors and retailers to develop and promote new wine brands that effectively communicate value to the Chinese consumer,”​ he said.

Irving said that the red wine sector will be the firm’s primary avenue of growth, “however we feel strongly that the white wine category will start to really grow as consumers begin to drink wine more with meals”.

“China is an every-changing and developing market…This is being driven by constantly and developing consumer tastes,”​ he said.

Beyond wine…

Irving detailed that wine will be the company’s initial focus; there are also opportunities in beer and spirits in the medium term.

“Regarding beer, we see opportunities for imported lager in cans,”​ he said. “As for spirits, our initial focus will be brown spirits such as scotch whiskey. Over time, however, we feel that imported premium white spirits will also become popular.”

While the US firm doesn’t have staff in Asia, it does have a presence through multinational retailers like Costco and Tesco, he said. “Presence in the region is important to growing the business at a healthy rate over the long term.”

“This partnership will greatly raise visibility for Winery Exchange in the region as Otis McAllister will effectively be our ‘feet on the ground’,”​ the MD said.

Growth should be more efficient due to the Chinese firm’s experience and relationships in the region, he said. “It is really a great marriage of capabilities as it combines our strong global capabilities developing, producing and delivering alcoholic beverage products to customers with Otis’ strong business relationships in the China market and Asia generally.”

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