China / Regions

Guizhou continues liquor-making legacy

By Zhao Kai (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-09 08:18

Foreign businesses vie for a share of China's growing alcohol market

The fourth China International Alcoholic Beverage Expo opens today in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou, and hopes to build on the success of previous sessions, said a senior official of the province.

"The exhibition began in 2011 and it is the only national-level liquor industry show in China," said Meng Qiliang, deputy governor of Guizhou.

The event will last until Sep 12.

The history of liquor making in Guizhou dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCAD 221), when people grew sorghums to produce alcohol. Today, the province is known as the home of the well-known brand Moutai, one of the most expensive baijiu, or Chinese liquors, in the country.

Guizhou continues liquor-making legacy

"The influence of Moutai and other renowned local brands is our advantage when hosting such a high-end show. We believe the event will be a platform for Chinese liquor companies to reach out to more overseas partners," said Meng.

Industry analysts expect China to become the world's fifth-largest market for alcoholic beverages by 2015 because of increasing personal wealth. The huge potential has attracted foreign businesses to vie for a bigger share of the market.

Since the first expo organizers were enthusiastic about inviting overseas dealers and buyers to the event, said Chen Zeming, deputy chief of Guizhou commerce bureau, which is one of the event organizers.

"In the past three years, more than 550,000 people participated in the event, including 55,000 exhibitors," Chen said.

He added that more than 7,000 deals, worth about 160 billion yuan, were signed during the past three years.

As the event has grown during the past three years, more international companies see the expo as an opportunity to expand in China, according to Chen.

"In recent years, traditional wine countries, such as Italy, France and Australia, increased their sales in China to make up for decline in their home markets," said Benoit Tomas, sales manager at the Shanghai branch of French wine company, Chateau La Tour Carnet.

"France exported 12,000 liters of wine to China last year, while Australia also delivered about 12,000 liters, growing sharply from the previous years," he said.

To boost the show's professionalism and attract more businesses, the organizers said the government eased its control on the exhibition and a professional expo company was hired to run the event.

"An exhibition without proper management and marketing will not be successful," said Chen Zeming, who added that this was the first year that expo would be operated by professional teams instead of the government.

"All the exhibits, sales and commercial advertising are organized by an exhibition company. This will not only lower the government's expenditure, but will also encourage the operator to be more creative in order to get profit," Chen said.

Cai Xue, a 25-year-old employee at the Guizhou International Wine Expo Exhibition Co Ltd, the event's operator, said sorting out the list of foreign wine dealers was his primary job.

"My colleagues and I were assigned to provide person-to-person services to foreign company representatives who plan to take part in this year's expo. We will find out what type of beverage they are willing to purchase if they are the buyers or help them set up their booths if they are the suppliers," Cai said. He added that his team started work on the expo at the beginning of the year.

Data showed more than 900 wine manufacturers from 40 countries and regions have confirmed to take part in this year's expo. The number of buyers is expected to reach 12,000, an all-time high.

Deputy Governor Meng Qiliang said Guizhou would further expand the liquor industry to enter the international market.

He mentioned that a global alcoholic beverage alliance to promote the industry worldwide would be established during the expo, with members including associations and companies from China, Germany, Austria and Italy.

"As for Guizhou, we will make our own contribution by further promoting the influence of the expo to make it an international platform for traders and buyers, and also a showcase for local industrial development," he said.

Guizhou continues liquor-making legacy

Local visitors tasted foreign wines during the Guizhou Alcoholic Beverage Expo in 2013.

Guizhou continues liquor-making legacy

Business representatives celebrated the launch of an e-commerce platform for liquor trade during last year's expo. Photos provided to China Daily

Guizhou continues liquor-making legacy

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