Boost for Kiwi wine in China

New Zealand Winegrowers are opening an office in Hong Kong next week with the aim of increasing the wine exports to the region to $150 million within five years.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said the Chinese market had been identified as a high priority in the strategic review by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

"The Chinese market has been growing in importance in the last three to four years. There has been an expectation to open an office at some stage and it will be welcomed by the industry."

The NZ Winegrowers annual report shows wine exports to China have increased by more than 800 per cent during the past four years from $2.4 million in 2008, to more than $25m in 2012.

China is also the highest value average of all export countries, with wine selling for an average $11 a litre, Mr Gregan said.

Auckland-based Winegrowers Asia marketing manager Monty James is relocating to manage the office, which will be part of the Trade and Enterprise office in Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

His role will be to co-ordinate a programme such as wine tastings, educational seminars, in-bound trips of key influencers to New Zealand and production of materials in Chinese languages, Mr Gregan said.

The role is fully funded by the levies collected by NZ Winegrowers from grape growers and wine companies.

NZ Winegrowers has been working with Trade and Enterprise to make the most of China's growing taste for Western food and beveridges.

Most of New Zealand wine exported to China is sold in its three biggest cities, Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, but the Hong Kong office will also be concentrating on markets in Japan, Singapore, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Thailand.

NZ Winegrowers also has representatives in London, New York, San Fransisco, Toronto and Melbourne.

The Marlborough Express