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Vinexpo’s Robert Beynat: Global Wine Market Benefiting From Steady U.S. Growth, Asian Momentum

January 23, 2013

On June 16-20, Vinexpo will hold its 17th biannual trade show in Bordeaux. The five-day event—which attracts roughly 50,000 wine and spirits industry professionals from 135 countries—has witnessed a considerable demographic shift in recent years, as Asia and other emerging wine markets have become increasingly important global players. At the last Bordeaux event, held in 2011, Vinexpo CEO Robert Beynat reported a significant uptick in Asian attendance—particularly from China—and he expects that trend to continue. Shanken News Daily recently spoke with Beynat regarding the upcoming show and his views on the key U.S. and Asian markets.

SND: How are the exhibitor rolls looking for Vinexpo 2013?

Beynat: We’ll have 2,400 companies represented, and we expect between 45,000-50,000 visitors from all over the world, about the same as 2011. We’ll also have two new countries represented with exhibits this year, Brazil and Turkey.

SND: Given the fact that Vinexpo also holds a biannual event in Hong Kong, are you surprised that the Bordeaux edition continues to lure increasing numbers of Asian attendees?

Beynat: In 2011, 37% of Vinexpo attendees were non-French. Of that 37%, one in three was Asian. They come from all over—China, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan. Vinexpo Bordeaux is five days and four times the size of the Asia Pacific show, so many Asian buyers make the trip to Bordeaux. Part of the reason the Hong Kong show is smaller is because we only showcase current, not aspiring, players there.

SND: With talk of a slowdown over the past year, how do you see Asia’s market for wine and spirits developing?

Beynat: All the trends on Asia remain positive, though it’s growing at a slower rate now that the consumption base is larger. Over the next five years the Asian wine market is projected to grow by 150%, with China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea all contributing. In spirits, more than two-thirds of global consumption is already based in Asia. Today it’s mainly baijiu, shochu, sake and other local types. But looking ahead, they will drink more whisk(e)y, vodka and other international spirits. So Asia will be an important market for years, barring enormous economic or political change.

SND: Is Asian interest in wine spreading beyond Bordeaux, Burgundy and other trophy wines?

Beynat: The Grand Cru wines will always be the engine that drives the locomotive of Bordeaux, whether in Asia or elsewhere. The job of Bordeaux is to sell the other 90% of its wines. But other imported wines—and domestic wines too—are also growing in Asia. By 2016, China will be the sixth-largest wine producer worldwide by volume. The more they plant, the more they’ll drink, so domestic production is an encouraging trend.

SND: But you still see the U.S. as the top priority for global winemakers?

Beynat: Yes. It’s the largest wine market by both volume and value, and it’s still rising, albeit slowly. The surprising thing is that wine consumption continued to grow despite a difficult U.S. economy in recent years. This hasn’t been true for many consumer products. With consolidation, we now have fewer U.S. companies attending Vinexpo—for instance, years ago we had 1,000 different wholesalers represented. But we have more attendees from any given company, with the big players sending contingents of 10 people or more.


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