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New players in spotlight

Lithuania and its Baltic neighbour Latvia
Lithuania and its Baltic neighbour Latvia debuted at the HKTDC Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair
Czech pavilion
The Czech pavilion exhibited a wide variety of absinthe liquors, with special additions (including one containing a beetle) joining traditional offerings

Hong Kong’s role as a hub for the beverage business, especially wines, received strong affirmation in November as industry players from around the world streamed to the 12th HKTDC Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair.

Demand from Mainland China continued to strengthen while the range of producers expanded further, with up-and-coming suppliers such as the Baltic republics of Latvia and Lithuania making an appearance at the fair.

Held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the fair featured 1,075 exhibitors from 30 countries and regions, showcasing remarkable wines, spirits, beers and ciders from around the world.

Over 15,000 buyers from 70 countries and regions visited the fair. Buyer attendance from Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Cambodia, Korea and Vietnam recorded satisfactory growth. Numerous renowned importers, retailers and e-tailers, including France’s Auchan, Russia’s Wine Shopper (Winestore LLC), Spain’s Caldos Extremenos S.L., Uruguay’s Los Dominguez, Japan’s Daimaru Department Store and Japan Craft Sake Company Co Ltd, Korea’s Shinsegae Liquor & Beverage, Singapore’s Underground Wines Pte Ltd, the mainland’s Netease Yanxuan and Long Vision Global International Inc., also sourced actively on-site. The fair opened to the public on the final day, Saturday, and drew more than 21,000 wine lovers to taste and purchase wines and attend a series of events such as master classes, wine tastings and cocktail demonstrations.

Diverse sources

Craft Beer Pavilion
The new Craft Beer Pavilion showcased an assortment of quality Hong Kong craft brews
Tennessee whiskey producer Uncle Nearest brought its famous spirit to the fair

“At this year’s Wine & Spirits Fair, the exhibitors showcased a fantastic assortment of wines from different regions of the world,” Benjamin Chau, HKTDC Deputy Executive Director, said. “We also welcomed new exhibitors from Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Vietnam to enrich the selection for buyers. In addition to wines and spirits, craft beers have surged in popularity in Hong Kong, and many local brews have attracted their share of fans. Exhibitors from Ukraine, Italy and Japan also brought their specialty beers to the Beer Zone to present to buyers. Other remarkable wines and spirits featured at the fair included the Sav Sparkling wine from Sweden, a refreshing baijiu catering to the taste of young consumers in the mainland, as well as Japanese gins that have been gaining popularity. The diversity of products offered buyers ample choice for different needs and tastes.”

Mr Chau added that, as a duty-free port, Hong Kong is regarded by global wine merchants as the most cost-effective distribution hub. Coupled with the keen demand for different wines from Asian and mainland consumers, the global wine industry sees the Wine & Spirits Fair as an important promotion and trading platform. Exhibitors of all types of wines and spirits make good use of Hong Kong as a gateway to expand their business to the mainland and other Asian markets.

Germany views Hong Kong as gateway

Manuela Liebchen, Marketing Manager of Germany’s Deutsches Weininstitut, said: “Hong Kong has become a premier wine hub in Asia over the years, serving as the foothold for German wineries to penetrate the Mainland China market. Since the Hong Kong fair's inauguration, we have been exhibiting here for 12 years. The HKTDC has made utmost effort continuously to attract so many buyers from the mainland, Taiwan, Macao and various countries in Southeast Asia.

“German wine producers can meet with different buyers to explore opportunities. This fair is well-organised and draws a lot of quality buyers. Through the event this year, we are able to secure a large number of buyers from Mainland China, Brazil, Australia and other countries. The results are very encouraging.”

Keen demand from mainland

Aura International from the mainland successfully sourced new suppliers at the fair. Leo Ai Yi Fei, President of the company, said the Wine & Spirits Fair is an excellent exhibition with a lot of good quality wines and spirits. He is now placing an initial order involving about 1,200 bottles of a scotch whisky with an exhibitor from the United Kingdom. Talks are underway with a Japanese whisky supplier with a potential order worth about 600,000 renminbi (US$85,400).

Star-studded forums

Events included the Wines of Portugal seminar, which offered delegates samples of fortified wines from the Setubal region, near the capital Lisbon and south of the Port region

The fair hosted a diverse array of seminars on wines, whiskies, Japanese wines, cocktails, craft beers and spirits, along with wine-tasting and wine-pairing events, offering visitors an all-round platform for trading and exchange.
In addition, the HKTDC again co-organised the Asia Wine Academy with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM). Lu Yang (main picture), the world’s first Chinese Master Sommelier, and Jeannie Cho Lee, Master of Wine, hosted a session titled “Looking into Variations of Cabernet”, which was enthusiastically received. On the first day of the Wine Industry Conference, Debra Meiburg, Master of Wine, moderated a session titled “Game Changer: Marketing Wine in Millennial Bottles” that examined ways to promote wines to the younger generation.

Related link
HKTDC Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair

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