Limping wine industry pushing for growth in Japan


Cheers! Winemakers worldwide are hoping for sales growth in Japan at a time when consumption in major markets is sluggish.

Japanese are not only drinking more wine, they are also relatively knowledgeable about the product, industry people say. One official goes so far as to call Japan the most sophisticated wine market in Asia.

Japan consumed 40.3 million 9-liter cases of wine in 2014, up 4.9 percent from a year earlier, according to Vinexpo, an operator of international exhibitions for the wine and spirits industry. It was the world’s third-largest rate of growth after South Africa and the United States.

Meanwhile, global wine consumption fell 1.5 percent in 2014, apparently affected by the ongoing crackdown on corruption in China, which had become a booming market, according to Vinexpo. Demand is meanwhile shrinking in the traditional wine markets of France, Germany and Britain.

But annual per-capita consumption of wine in Japan is still low, at 4 liters, compared with 45 liters in France and 26 liters in Britain.

Vinexpo Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Deglise says the Japanese market has big potential. While red wine now accounts for 70 percent of wine consumption in Japan, white wine — which matches Japanese cuisine quite well — has significant promise, he said.