If you’ve been reading our posts over the last few months, you’ll see that we’ve reported pretty extensively on the growing wine industry over in China. While the country hasn’t traditional been seen as a big wine importer, recent years have seen that change somewhat.
Now, China may be the fastest-growing market for wine. And the Italian wine industry is duking out with the other heavyweights in the world to try and establish the firmest foothold in the country.
To do that, Italian winemakers need to make themselves as accessible as possible to Chinese buyers. They also need to market themselves as much as possible to convince potential consumers that Italian wines truly are the best in the world.
And that brings us to the subject of today’s article.
Several organisations have begun holding special expositions in China as the country begins welcoming more western influencers. One of the most recent of those is the China International Import Expo (CIIE).
Now in its second year of operation, the exhibition recently made Italy its guests of honour for the 2019 event.
What is CIIE?
CIIE is a special event that’s held to commemorate products that are imported into China. The event offers both manufacturers and consumers the opportunity to network and build business relationships.
Like many expos of this type, the event takes place over several days and features a host of shows, talks, and conferences for those in various industries.
The event splits into both Country and Business exhibitions, the latter of which is where all of the networking happens. The Country exhibition is more of a cultural display in which different countries can learn more about China, as well as highlighting what makes them so special.
So as you can see, this is not a specialised wine exhibition. Instead, it’s open to exporters from all countries, no matter what products they produce. The benefit here for China is that it continues to create ties with producers beyond its own, thus widening the variety of products that it can offer to consumers.
For other countries, the opportunity is to establish a foothold in China for any number of products. The exposition brings manufacturers, producers, suppliers, and many more interested parties together for the forging of business relationships and the general enhancement of the importing scene in China.
Italy as the Guests of Honour
A unique twist to CIIE is that the event offers one country the mantle of “Guest of Honour” each year.
During the inaugural 2018 event, that title went to India, which already has an established trading relationship with China.
But for the 2019 event, CIIE wanted to go for a more European flavour. And after much deliberation, the event organisers chose Italy to be the “Guest of Honour” at CIIE 2019.
So, what does this mean for the Italians wine industry?
Italy’s status as the guest of honour gave it more flexibility in terms of the products exhibited at the event. It also placed Italy firmly in the spotlight, which means the country likely attracted the most interest out of all attending countries from potential business partners.
Of course, wine being one of Italy’s most important exports ensured that there was a healthy industry presence. And that presence may prove more invaluable that you might think.
It’s no secret that Italy lagged a little behind several other countries when it came to introducing its wines into China. Both France and the United States have a larger market share, alongside Spain and Chile.
CIIE 2019 served as a statement of intent for the Italian wine industry. However, it also placed the country as a whole on an elevated platform. Perhaps this will allow the Italian wine industry to gain some ground on its major competitors when it comes to making further inroads with Chinese consumers.
As a press release for the event put it:
“This year, Italy will launch its national pavilion at the Expo, and give full display to the quality of products involved in “Italian System” and “Made in Italy” brought by Italian enterprises, introduced by Carlo Ferro.
Italy hopes its presence at the Expo this year may help Chinese industrial associations and consumers to gain better understanding about the advantages of “Made in Italy” and the quality of Italian products, so as to further expand Italy’s exports to China and promote the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, Carlo Ferro added.”
That “Made in Italy” mention is very important. This label has formed the crux of the country’s efforts to make inroads into new markets in recent years. It acts as a seal of quality for all Italian products that carry the label.
And at CIIE 2019, more Chinese consumers than ever before got to see it first hand.
Can I Go to CIIE 2019?
Unfortunately not. The event took place in early-November, which means that it has already come and gone.
Italy will likely have a presence at the upcoming 2020 event, though it’s unlikely that the country will be the Guest of Honour for two years in a row.
As for the 2020 event, it seems that this is more of an industry event than it is a general trade show. Those who create products in Italy and wish to export them to China may be able to attend next year’s event. However, they will likely need to do so under the auspices of the “Made in Italy” label.
The Final Word
It’s events like this that show us just how much the world has changed over the last couple of decades.
An increase in affluence has resulted in China becoming an economic powerhouse that’s more interested in importing the sort of luxury products that Italy has to offer.
Wine may be the most luxurious of those products and we believe this event has given several producers some much-needed exposure.
It will be interesting to see if there’s a rise in Italian wine consumption in Italy following CIIE 2019.