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Wine Spectator: How Big Is China’s Counterfeit-Wine Problem?

October 12, 2015

China’s thriving counterfeit wine sales have pushed advisors at the French Foreign Trade Advisory Board to quietly leak a controversial report on fake wines in the Asian nation, despite opposition by French government officials. The report details the depth of the counterfeits problem, showing that fake wines are not just the work of a few criminal rings but a sizable underground industry.

The Comité National des Conseillers du Commerce Extérieur de la France (CNCCEF) is a public organization of foreign trade advisors from various industries, appointed by the French foreign minister. One of their subgroups is the Wine & Spirits Commission.

Sources tell Wine Spectator that the group’s report was suppressed for two years by French political leaders, following a firestorm that erupted when the president of the Wine & Spirits Commission revealed the estimated volume of counterfeit French wines saturating the Chinese market.

Their assessment of the problem is eye-opening. “For every real bottle of French wine in China, there is at least one counterfeit bottle of French wine, and the situation is only getting worse. It’s enormous,” said James de Roany, former president of the CNCCEF Wine & Spirits commission and a business consultant.

The advisors believe the problem has also contributed to a drop in sales. “The situation of imported French wine and spirits in China has deteriorated significantly since 2014,” noted the report, blaming the drop on high tariffs, predatory pricing, the discovery of other wine regions, but mainly, Chinese consumers’ distrust of wines “too often reputed to be counterfeit.” Wine Spectator has more.


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