China-Italy Ties: Italian wine importers continue betting on Chinese market
On his trip to Italy, Chinese President Xi Jinping was quick to point out the many similarities between the two countries and their cultures. Many of them revolve around good food, good drink, and good company. Our reporter Wei Lynn Tang takes us to the 100th China Food and Drinks Fair in Chengdu, and shows us the proof.
A hearty conversation complete with wine, cheese and salami. Italians living in China say they find much in common with the Chinese: namely the importance of family, and having a good time at the dinner table. And the feeling is mutual for the Chinese. Song Li has been distributing Italian wine in China for the past 6 years.
SONG LI, GENERAL MANAGER VITO WINE LIMITED LIABILITY INTERNATIONAL TRADING COMPANY "The Italians are very warm. For example, when you visit their homes, they will serve you their best in food, with many dishes, like us Chinese. They are hospitable. It's one of the reasons why I ventured into importing Italian wine."
Italy is the world's largest wine producer, and yet its market share in China's import wine market only stood at 7 percent, albeit, on a growing trend.
SIMONE MONFORTE PRESIDENT, CONSORZIO CHINA PROMOTION "The imported wine market is very small. So we first have to increase the wine culture in general, to bring more Chinese people to drink wine."
New exhibitors at the 100th China Food & Drinks Fair continue to set their eyes on China - even without a free-trade agreement between the two countries.
MARIELLA ALBERTI EXPORT DEPARTMENT, PASQUA "People are getting more knowledge about wine, so they focus more on quality, better than in the last years."
DARIO MAZZANTI GENERAL MANAGER OF ITALIAN OFFICE, PANOTION "Sparkling wine is a trend. And from my experience living in China from what I know and see, China is sensible to worldwide trends. It's like learning and adapting coming from outside."
China-Italy bilateral trade rose 9 percent year-on-year in 2018, to reach a record 54.2 billion US dollars. The fast-changing Chinese consumer market proves an opportunity for Italy.
AMEDEO SCARPA DIRECTOR, ITALIAN TRADE AGENCY IN BEIJING "They do like to live better and safe that's why not only the traditional sectors like fashion, food and wine are growing very well, but also the Italy of innovation, of health care sectors, machineries, sustainable and green process - these really are the assets of Italy that more appreciated by Chinese consumers and their professional trade counterparts."
DAVIDE CASTELLANI VICE-CONSOLE GENERALE, CONSULATE-GENERAL OF ITALY, CHONGQING "I think the future relationship between China and Italy will be great because of a stronger commitment by the Italian and Chinese governments to strengthen relationship."
WEI LYNN TANG CHENGDU "Speaking to Italian wine importers here, the same terms keep cropping up: high quality, premium. They are describing the Chinese market that is shifting to things of quality rather than just quantity. And Italian businesses are hoping to capitalize on this to penetrate the Chinese market further. WLT, CGTN, Chengdu."