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Alcohol Giant Eyes Wine Market

2006-03-23 14:55:30 

One of China's biggest alcohol makers, Wuliangye, is investing 200 million yuan to import wine from Europe and sell it under their own Chinese brand name. The group is not a pioneer in this kind of effort to boost China's wine market, but will it show itself to be successful after many other companies' previous efforts have failed? Our Shanghai correspondent Xiaoyu takes a look.

It's been 8 years since this company first began to explore the alcohol market with a range of its own products. Last year, China's wine industry reached a record high of 1.3 billion yuan in profits, [with an annual increase rate / a year-on-year increase] of nearly 60%, and the highest figure compared with that of soft drinks, beer, and hard liquor. That's why Wuliangye Group thought it was the right time to jump into the wine barrel, so to speak. Wang Xiaojun from the company's wine branch told CRI that they'll make full use of the high reputation of their other alcohol products to promote their new wine brand "Guoyi."

"It's part of our strategic development plan to create the same kind of prestigious name in the wine industry as Wuliangye has for alcohol. And we aim to build our wine product into a backbone for our whole group, so as to make it one of the leading companies, not only in the wine sector, but in the whole alcohol industry."

Wang said they won't be building their own vineyard and chateau, but instead will import wine from European countries including France, Italy and Spain, and bottle it in China. With their advanced [what kind of?] techniques, Wang Xiaojun said they are prepared to grasp this golden opportunity to tempt consumers with their "made-in-Europe"wine.

"After China entered the WTO, it was inevitable that we would import more wine from Europe, as the tariffs get lower and lower. As most Chinese consumers aren't very familiar with wine brands or how to choose the best product for their taste, we'll be able to guide them to choose our brand, as its high quality is ensured by our fine reputation and by European wine standards."

The price of one bottle of Guoyi wine can range from 30 yuan to over 200 yuan, a relatively affordable price for ordinary people, as the company is still testing the market with low- and middle-end products.

Big cities, especially along the country's eastern coast, will be the main target populations for the Guoyi brand in the near future.

China's wine market is thought to have with huge growth potential, as the per capita volume of wine consumption in China is currently only 6% of the world's average. Since the late 1990s, the market has been expanding by over 20% annually. Half of the market share is dominated by major domestic brands. Enticed by opportunity, many other Chinese liquor producers have previously tried to expand into the local wine market, but very few have proved to be successful. Perhaps Wuliangye Group will break this trend…