SIAL 2011, Shanghai biggest Food & Beverage event yet…

May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

Disappointment. More booth than ever but very few interesting products. I’m a bit on the edge but that was a waste of time and from what I’ve heard from participants that travelled the world to seek opportunities here there wasn’t too much to feel happy with. I stopped counting the number of wine labels that were represented and felt very sorry for all these noble and great products that, I am sorry to say, will not have any chance on the Chinese market.

1- There’s only so much alcohol China can consume and wine traders expectation are not realistic.

2-wine is even not closed to a daily consumption and hasn’t made its way to Chinese consumers’ habits.

3- too many labels, origins, tastes, AOC, flooding a market that is not yet mature and that have a limited understanding of the offer.

4- a too strong and durable presence of richest and most powerful wineries owned by giants MHD and Pernod-Ricard + ASC, Castel, etc… does it leave any room for other product? NO!

I felt bad for the houses that are still trying to value their ancestral terroir and most traditional ways of making wine. Sadly, they are hors sujet, unless your name is Lafite, Rotshield, Cadet, ou Cheval Blanc… There must have been about 50 wine maker, all desperately looking for a distributor or an agent, a savior to lead them to flooding the Chinese market. It will not happen I’m afraid. See, none of the most successful wine -or spirit- maker was present, showing how much the SIAL is only a destination for those who hope and dream of the Chinese market, from far countries.

Too many labels, too few distributors and a wine consumption growth not significant enough to satisfy every wineries de France et de Navarre. I believe that our brands, AOC and products in general should 1- understand Chinese people’s real needs 2- unite to conquer instead of promoting our individuality and regionalism. Mind that not only French alcohols are competing with each other but they are now facing a much bigger threat in the rising of New World Wine (none of them made it to the SIAL).

On a more positive ton, kudos to INTER RHONE, the association for the promotion of the Rhone Valley wines that federated its labels and came prepared. Their booth, the content and design of their pamphlets, the activities and pedagogy shows a real understanding of the Chinese market, an effort to package their multiple offers and a quite rare communitarian approach -surprising coming from the French-. Judging from the number of Chinese amateurs that stopped by it was a success.

WHERE WERE THE COGNAC? In the world second country for cognac consumption it felt totally surreal not to find more than two cognac makers. If the wine market is already saturated and won’t leave much chance to the hundreds of brands that are knocking at the China door, I believe that cognac and champagne, being AOCs -therefore enjoying rarity-, and mainly small houses, had reasons to make it to the SIAL. Yet…

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