Opportunities for Irish Whiskey in China

Irish whiskey brands have been leading players all over the world and Alan O’Brien, Bord Bia Shanghai Office, says this can also be the case in China.

He said: “China represents a whiskey market in its infancy and is developing rapidly as young Chinese consumers 20+ readily adapt a western drinking culture.

O’Brien outlined that in 2012 standard and blended scotch whiskey accounted for 75% of total consumption; with approximately 80% of whiskey consumption occurring on-trade in bars, nightclubs and hugely popular Chinese KTV bars.

He said: “Benefitting from first mover advantage scotch brands such as Ballantines, Johnnie Walker and Chivas have gained a strong foothold across on-trade channels. According to Euromonitor (2013) while blended whiskeys will continue to dominate whiskey sales, scotch malt will experience the highest level of growth over the next three years at 9.5%.”

Sales of whiskey in China are set to reach €2.4 billion by 2017 driven by growth in the middle class, consumer education toward whiskey and increasing levels of urbanisation. Irish whiskey is represented at retail level in China across major retailers. However, sales of whiskey in China are focused on-trade (80-90%) where whiskey is a sign status.

O’Brien: “As whiskey culture continues to take hold in China the next few years represent a vast opportunity to build a market position for Irish whiskey. The available data on by ISWR for the end of 2012 place Irish import of Irish whiskey to China at 5750 (9 litre cases).”