Insights from China’s Largest Wine and Spirits Fair: Assessing the Atmosphere

by Kaia

Chengdu hosted the 110th China Food and Drinks Fair (CFDF), renowned as the Spring Fair, from March 20 to 22, 2024, marking a significant event for the wine and spirits industry in China.


Despite a slight dip in anticipation compared to its previous edition, the fair maintained its vibrancy, with industry stakeholders displaying unwavering enthusiasm.


Traditionally, the fair commenced on March 20, with organizers setting up exhibitions at select five-star hotels in Chengdu several days prior. This year, four hotel exhibitions focused on wine, primarily hosted at the Shangri-La and Kempinski hotels.


The hotel venues observed a notable increase in visitor footfall, particularly in contrast to the 109th CFDF held in Shenzhen during October 2023 (the Autumn CFDF). The Shangri-La Hotel witnessed significant activity, even as the exhibitions drew to a close on March 19, indicating sustained demand among merchants this spring.


Transitioning to the main exhibition hall on March 20, attendees showcased robust interest. Despite the strategic separation of wine and spirits from Baijiu exhibitions into distinct venues situated away from downtown Chengdu, the audience’s enthusiasm remained undeterred. A substantial number of visitors flocked to the venue on the opening day, eager to explore the diverse offerings.

Reflecting on the event’s dynamics, one vendor noted, “This year’s main wine exhibition hall saw slightly less activity than last year, yet attendance was still strong.”

Focus on Importers

The Spring Fair continued its tradition of being primarily organized by major wineries and importers, particularly in the imported wine sector. Notably, fewer wineries themselves were present at the Shangri-La Hotel, with a predominant display of imported wine brands like Castillo Diablo and Bernard Margrez, alongside import companies.

Despite its extensive scale, covering 325,000 square meters and hosting over 6,600 exhibitors, the fair appeared more domestically oriented compared to international expos like Vinexpo and Prowine, lacking a close connection to upstream brand owners.

Renowned wine brands and companies in China, including ASC Fine Wines, Treasury Wine Estates, and Castel, opted to set up exhibitions outside the main hotels and fairground, seeking a conducive environment for deal-making and negotiations.

Market Dynamics: Strong Interest, Cautious Transactions

The fair witnessed strong attendance; however, hesitance in closing deals was palpable, reflecting a broader trend of market conservatism observed since the previous year. Many visitors were seen browsing without making purchases, echoing a “look but don’t buy” sentiment.

While some exhibitors noted an increase in signed deals compared to the previous year, primarily with existing or potential clients engaged in pre-fair discussions, the prospect of acquiring new clients remained slim.

Liu Anqi, China Regional Manager for Spain’s DAVIDWINE, observed that although turnout was good, many visitors showed superficial interest, with limited engagement in substantive discussions.

Similarly, Li Yajun, General Manager of Shanghai-based wine importing company Merveille Business, noted a cautious approach from both new and established clients, with a focus on maintaining existing client relationships.

Anticipated Revival of Australian Wines

The fair coincided with positive developments for Australian wine, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announcing progress in resolving the wine dispute between China and Australia.

During the fair, the South Australian government conducted a masterclass on premium South Australian wines, which witnessed overwhelming interest, indicating significant enthusiasm for Australian wines.

Journalists and industry participants expressed optimism regarding the return of Australian wines, anticipating a reversal of the declining import trend observed in recent years. However, stakeholders remain cautious, acknowledging the need for sustained consumer uptake to ensure long-term growth in the market.

While the re-entry of Australian wines is welcomed, industry players recognize the imperative of strategic market integration and consumer engagement to capitalize on this opportunity effectively.



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