Feature: Vinitaly 2019 boasts record number of visitors, exhibitors

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-12 01:41:34|Editor: yan
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VERONA, April 11 (Xinhua) -- The just-concluded 53rd edition of the international wine and spirits exhibition Vinitaly has attracted a record number of visitors and exhibitors, and witnessed the launch of a new multi-channel wine promotion platform for Asia with a Chinese partner.

Some 125,000 people from 145 countries visited the exhibition between April 7 and April 10. According to the organizer, Veronafiere, there were 4,600 exhibitors, and over 33,000 foreign buyers.

"The major feature of this Vinitaly has indeed been its international trait, confirmed by a further 3 percent increase in the number of foreign buyers," said Veronafiere Director General Giovanni Mantovani.

"This has also been a very digital edition, with over one million visits to our multi-language directory in the two weeks across the event," he noted.

The top five countries of origin of foreign buyers were Canada (18 percent rise), the UK (9 percent), Germany (4 percent), China (3 percent) and the United States (2 percent), according to Veronafiere.


The Asian market, and especially China, was a major focus at Vinitaly for both management and exhibitors.

A new multi-channel permanent 'Wine to Asia' platform to promote Italian wine in Asia was launched on the closing day on Wednesday by Veronafiere and its Chinese partner, the Shenzhen Taoshow Culture & Media company, belonging to the Shenzhen-based Pacco Communication Group.

"The Far East is an area that has to be monitored constantly. Therefore we have set up a permanent initiative in the wake of more than twenty years of activity in the area," Veronafiere President Maurizio Danese explained.

The initiative, scheduled in 2020, aims to strengthen the promotion of the variegated world of Italian wine in Asia.

"As Veronafiere-Vinitaly, our priority is to serve as a catalyst for the promotion of Italian wine in China, because we do believe our world of wine needs to present itself under the same umbrella, and all together," Danese told Xinhua in a separate interview.

The goal is to significantly increase the market share in the Far East, where Italy today ranks fourth among the largest foreign wine exporters, far behind France -- its direct competitor at global level -- and also behind Australia and Chile.


According to a recent study conducted by Vinitaly and Nomisma Wine Monitor, Italian wine's penetration in the Far East is "still marginal compared to the country's potential."

The study showed that Italy's market presence in the area was stuck at 6.5 percent (419 million euros, or 472 million U.S. dollars) against France's 50.2 percent (3.24 billion euros), Australia's 15.9 percent and Chile's 8.9 percent.

Between 2008 and 2018, wine imports in the Far East increased by 227 percent, eleven times more than in Europe and almost four times more than in north America (United States and Canada), according to the study quoting customs data.

Italian analysts and winery operators alike acknowledged that the country was paying a price for having moved late towards Asia and China compared to their French competitors, who started over 20 years ago.

"Duties and customs systems might play a role, but anyway I do believe that Italy's current ranking (as a wine exporter) is not fitting for our country -- we should sit on the top three steps of the podium, at least," Danese told Xinhua.

Shenzhen Pacco Communication -- the Chinese partner in the 'Wine to Asia' platform -- started working with Veronafiere in 2014, helping promote Italian wines with an off-show event alongside China's oldest wine and spirits fair in Chengdu, and with road shows in China's first and second-tier cities.

The company's CEO, Alan Hung, was confident of the prospects of Italian wine. "It is a very good choice for the Chinese market, although it is not yet very strong at the moment," Hung told Xinhua.

"The feedback from most of my clients and friends suggests to me that Italian wine will be the future of Chinese and Asian markets," he said.

Both Veronafiere and Pacco Communication highlighted the relevance of choosing Shenzhen as home city for the new initiative.

"Shenzhen has achieved the highest growth rates in China over the last twenty years and is home to some 30 percent of all wine importers," Veronafiere Director General Mantovani stressed in a statement.

"Besides, it is the third most important city in economic terms after Beijing and Shanghai, and is considered the city of innovation and digital communication."


Several winemakers present at Vinitaly 2019 seemed to share the management's optimism in the Asian market's growth potential.

Many of them have started exporting to China in recent years, and their efforts were rewarded.

"Sales to China covered about 1 percent of our production in 2017," Fabio Tonalini, chairman of Tenute Tonalini, told Xinhua. "In 2019, according to our estimates, they will represent some 12 percent."

Founded in 1865 under the name of Cantina Storica Montu Beccaria, the winery is based in the northern Lombardy region and produces 17 wine labels, which include robust red wines that are top products for the Chinese market.

"The strong growth in our sales to China in the last two years results from our prolonged cooperation with our Chinese partner," said the winemaker.

This has helped the winery to become better known among Chinese consumers, but first and foremost "to know the market itself and adapt our offer accordingly," Tonalini explained.

Chinese consumers have started to discover the world of wine only recently, he said.

"Yet, in my experience, they are very interested, they read up on wines, and -- compared to other areas in the world with an older wine culture -- they are more attentive."(1 euro = 1.13 U.S. dollars)