By Luis Brito
MEXICO CITY, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Mexican tequila distillers are looking to expand their exports in China, currently the alcohol's second largest market in the world where overall consumption has significant room to grow.
"The tequila market may not be very big in terms of the size of the Chinese population, but the Chinese population makes up a big percentage of the world," said Tequila JG manager, Citlali Guizar, in an interview with Xinhua.
Tequila JG's first shipment of 10,000 bottles of white tequila is currently making its way to the Chinese megacity of Shanghai, having recently left the port of Manzanillo on the Mexican Pacific Coast.
Tequila is an alcohol made from the agave plant that grows wild across Mexico's western state of Jalisco and is currently enjoying a worldwide boom in popularity.
Guizar, whose family is based in the birthplace of the liquor in Jalisco state, established a distillery in order to fulfill her grandfather's wish to become a tequila producer.
Recently, the brand began to sell its two-year-old, 100 percent agave blend to China, the United States and Greece as major destinations.
Guizar said that the company's Chinese client prefers their "Azul" (Blue) blend, which offers soft, citrus flavors.
According to Mexico's Tequila Regulatory Council, 2017 was a record-breaking year that saw the country export more than 213 million liters of the drink to 120 markets across the globe.
Chinese customers' first taste of the beverage came in 2013 when the government authorized the entrance of tequila made from 100 percent agave.
Its popularity has quickly grown and now bottles of tequila, named after the town of Tequila in Jalisco state, are commonly seen in supermarkets and bars of major Chinese cities.
According to data from the council, Chinese imports totalled 682,000 liters last year, but the country still lags far behind the largest tequila market of all, the United States.
Corralejo, one of the oldest tequila houses in Mexico, is also interested in entering the Chinese market. Corralejo, based in the central state of Guanajuato, is an emblematic tequila brand.
Vianey Rivera, head of product development of the producer, pointed out China's strict phytosanitary measures require all tequila entering the country to be made from 100 percent agave. Phytosanitary measures are set up to protect plants, animals and humans from pests or contaminants.
She is confident that the samples that the brand have sent to potential Chinese clients will successfully meet these regulations.
"We are working with them so that they can get to know our tequila," said Rivera.
Guizar is betting on the tequila boom continuing. If the company ships 18,000 bottles a week to China as hoped, Tequila JG could triple its staff size from 50 to 150 employees.
"If the demand is met, which is the intention, then this is where we'll go," she said.