As the cost of Chinse labor rises so does the wealth of its middle and upper classes – and they’ve taken a liking to American whiskey.
During the annual economic briefing of the national trade association in New York, Christine LoCascio, senior vice president of international affairs of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), announced favorable numbers.
“We’ve seen growth in China and our exports are up almost 15 percent compared to 2016,” said LoCascio. “It’s a growth market for us. It ranks our 24th largest export market, but there are still a lot of opportunities to grow there and we’ve been doing promotions.” Locascio was recently interviewed by Chinese news agency, Xinhua.
In March of 2017, DISCUS began a program of promotions in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, appointing several American marketing ambassadors. The program consists of press relations, promotions, opportunities for clubs to learn about the liquor, and trade agreements with local establishments.
LoCascio said that compared to other Asian markets, China’s 10% import tariff makes it a relatively open market. “China is a huge spirits market, and we just see it quite an opportunity for us,” she said.
The largest markets for American exports of whiskey in 2017 were the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, France, and Spain, DISCUS reported. Sales of US whiskey abroad were up 14% in 2017, thanks to a weak dollar, reaching $1.63 billion.
DISCUS President and CEO, Kraig R Naasz, gave an enthusiastic and seasonal nod to his Chinese customers, wishing them well during Chinese New Year celebrations. “On behalf of all American whiskey producers, we wish our Chinese consumers a very joyous new year celebration, and we hope they enjoy our products in good health and good fortune,” Naasz said.
He views DISCUS activities in China as long-term investments, stating that the market is still developing – and with an alarming speed at that.