Whereas wine is part of ancient European culture, in Asia wine drinking is still in its infancy. But what are the consumption patterns and what are the trends for organic wines there? We take a closer look at Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China with key takeaways from a conference hosted by Catherine Machabert, wine market manager for AD’OCC at the 2023 Millésime Bio exhibition in Montpellier earlier this year.
- What are the defining features of wine consumption in Asia?
- A closer look at wine in Japan
- A closer look at wine in South Korea
- A closer look at wine in Taiwan
- A closer look at wine in mainland China
What are the defining features of wine consumption in Asia?
The wine culture in Asia is different to that of the Western world. Consumption is still in its early stages and is generally growing across the region’s major cities and large urban areas. Wine is considered to be healthier than other alcoholic drinks. It is also a sign of social distinction. Consumption peaks tend to occur during festivals. In fact, generally speaking wines are drunk in on-premise locations.
Asians mostly drink red wine, although in some Asian countries, consumption of white and sparkling wines is growing.
A closer look at wine in Japan
The Japanese drink 5.9 litres of wine per adult per year. As Catherine Machabert points out: “The wine market is accessible, mature and structured with a clear route to market. The organic wine market is marginal but definitely there”. Its share in less than ten years’ time is estimated at 10%.
The profile of the Japanese organic wine consumer
As affluent wine enthusiasts, organic wine consumers in Japan are willing to pay higher prices for organic wine, provided this is mirrored in its quality and flavour.
Though drawn to innovative products, they are demanding when it comes to quality.
Buying criteria tend to be the environment for the younger generations, whereas across the age brackets, health concerns are the main drivers. Organic logos or environmental and health endorsements also act as buying cues.
Japanese organic wine consumers are heavily influenced by media and critics’ appraisals, along with medals from competitions.
A closer look at wine in South Korea
South Koreans have an annual LDA per capita consumption of 1.2 litres. South Korea is the second largest organic market in Asia for food products, generating revenue of 285 million euros in 2021. The market for organic wines is limited, but growing. The popularity of organic wines is increasing, as is that of biodynamic wines.
The profile of the South Korean organic wine consumer
Organic wine is considered as fashionable and mostly drunk by Generation Y. It is an ‘Instagrammable’ beverage. 45% also drink it for environmental and health reasons.
A closer look at wine in Taiwan
The Taiwanese drink 0.9 litres of wine annually per capita.
The wine market is dynamic and in fine fettle. For the past ten years, it has witnessed continual growth. Wine is the second most consumed alcoholic beverage by value after whisky, outstripping beer since 2017. The organic wine market has regulatory restrictions, but demand for organic products is on the increase. The Taiwanese actively seek out healthier foods due to increased awareness of environmental issues.
The profile of the Taiwanese organic wine consumer
The target audience is either women, the younger generation of consumers or consumers who have already made organic a part of their eating habits.
The main buying cues are awareness of the wine grower, along with the quality of the product as recognised by Taiwanese influencers or international magazines, and the wine’s provenance.
A closer look at wine in mainland China
The Chinese have an annual per capita consumption of 2.5 litres of wine.
The wine market was significantly impacted by the Covid pandemic and consumption has consequently declined.
The market for organic wine is in its infancy and difficult to identify. Awareness of organic wines is relatively limited in China because the Chinese are less receptive to environmental issues.
What are the promising signs of recovery for the wine market in general?
Firstly, the reopening of borders and an end to the zero-Covid policy.
As for the target audience, it is primarily the growing Chinese middle classes. And they represent a staggering four hundred million people.
Young consumers are increasingly knowledgeable. They are also inquisitive and looking for unique consumer experiences.
In terms of distribution, the emergence of a growing number of wine bars, an energised hospitality industry and booming e-commerce channels are all beneficial for the category. This is particularly true for French wines that still have the best reputation for quality and notoriety.
Sources : Catherine Machabert, © winnievinzence/AdobeStock