Better marketing strategies are due to be set in motion soon by Spanish firms to establish a foothold in China’s increasingly sophisticated delicatessen market.
Hong Kong is seen as central to the blueprint for upgrading Spanish food and wine trades on the Mainland.
It was a theme followed by several delegates to a seminar presenting Hong Kong as a commercial platform for Spain’s food and wine industries on the Chinese mainland. The event sharpened the focus of Spanish specialist producers, as the country trails other major trade exporters to Asia.
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Last year, Spanish exports of wine to Hong Kong were worth just over Euros12 million, admittedly 120% up on the previous year but only putting Spain in 10th position among European and other foreign food and wine exporters.
Spain was behind France, the UK, the US, Australia and Switzerland, among others.
In the session, Alfonso Ballesteros Martinez, Managing Director of import and export consultancy, Trade Winds Business Group Ltd, said Hong Kong is one of the great centres for wine in Asia, a market selling some 39.2 million litres, equivalent to Euros350 million in this one market alone.
The Chinese mainland, for its part, experienced growing wine consumption at 140% up over the five years to 2010, compared to the previous five-year period. The market is forecast to grow another 54% between 2011 and 2015, said Martinez.
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In addition, he said Chinese mainland consumer demand is increasingly more sophisticated, with evident interest in white wines, which have been little known until now.
So, speakers concluded that now was a good time for Spanish wine producers to take advantage of the opening Mainland market, including specialist tapas and wine bars, restaurants and an array of specialist consumer foods.
Martinez said Hong Kong has to be considered as part of the plan, not least because of its position as a market for Mainland visitors and as a logistical platform for the entire region.
“Hong Kong creates access to brands and China consumes them, as evidenced in luxury items which are shown in Hong Kong’s shop windows for a Mainland clientele.”
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Targeting the top market
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Delegates were reminded that Hong Kong society is at a sophisticated level where it comes to sampling wines.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Fine Wine Purchasing Group follows this strategy: major decision makers often frequent Hong Kong’s country clubs and boxes on race days, so the wines to be provided must be of premium quality.
Wines usually cost more than Euros80 per bottle each, while those sold for consumption during a meal at clubs are between Euros20 and Euros30. This was despite the fact that duty on wine has been eliminated in the SAR.
Although the number of bottles which shoppers took away represented a small part of the 70,000 bottles sold last year by the Jockey Club, they accounted for about 30% of the Purchasing Group‘s income.
Amadeo Jensana, Director of Economics and Trade for Spanish public body Casa Asia, said: “Hong Kong has always been for Spain the gateway to China, as evidenced by exports, of which more than one quarter are actually aimed at the Chinese market.”
|Jensana: using the Hong Kong gateway.||Martinez: China regional differences.|
Trade Winds’ Martinez said the entry strategies for Chinese mainland market would pre-suppose the use of a Hong Kong importer and close understanding of regional differences.
Jensana added: “Hong Kong is the easiest way [to enter the Chinese mainland market], although we must not forget that China may require more than one strategy.”
Hence Guangdong Province and Beijing Municipality might require different forms and scale of distribution.
A market for expansion
|Higher value wines needed in China.|
The seminar joint hosted by the HKTDC and Casa Asia earlier this summer also heard that Shanghai and Beijing comprise the major markets for expansion on the Chinese mainland.
Supermarkets are said to be developing distribution channels while online opportunities are fast increasing.
In China, wines of higher value are increasingly in demand and sales of wines in bottles are on the rise, compared to bulk sales.
France has the best image and its brands are able to command premium prices while Australia has undergone a considerable growth on the Mainland in the last few years, said speakers.
Amadeo Jensana of Casa Asia, which aims to increase mutual understanding and trade with Spain, said greater efforts at branding would be required by Spanish producers, particularly small- and medium-sized players.
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Casa Asia is developing different initiatives such as transferring foods and wines shown at Barcelona fairs to those in Asia.
In this regard, producers could seek the help of export promoters such as Prodeca in Catalonia or the Spanish external trade institute, ICEX, said Jensana.
A significant move would be to attend fairs in Hong Kong, attendees heard. One such fair was Great Spanish Wines of the Peñín Guide, which saw 26 Spanish wineries participating last year. There is also Vinexpo Asia-Pacific and the HKTDC Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair held from 8 to 10 November.
from special correspondents Isabel Herrero and
José M. Alarcón, Barcelona
Amadeo Jensana, Director of Economics and Trade
|Tel: (34) 93-368-08-36
|Hong Kong Jockey Club||Web: http://www.hkjc.com|
|Trade Winds Business Group Ltd
Alfonso Ballesteros Martinez, Managing Director