Import Australian Wine to Japan

by admin on August 9, 2011

Japan’s wine market is quite young with the average consumption per person estimated at 2.4 litres per year, compared to Australia’s 22.5 litres per year. While market growth is stagnant, income potential awaits those who import Australian wine and adopt appropriate marketing strategies.

Anyone who intends to import Australian wine must first study the Japanese wine market before entering it.

Wine statistics

Japanese currently prefer Old World wines or wines produced by France and Italy. Thus, France has captured 51% of the market share, followed by Italy with 14%. In 2009, approximately 9.5 million litres of Australian wine were imported by Japan, 1 million of which were Australian sparkling wines. This indicates a gradual shift towards New World wines.

Australia is Japan’s 6th largest wine exporter following France, Italy, Chile, US and Spain. Australian wine is known for its good quality but lags behind Chilean wine due to the latter’s lower price. In particular, Chile has in its favour the recent implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between Japan and Chile which gave Chilean wine a significant boost in market share.

Segments of Japanese Wine Market

Japan’s wine market is subdivided according to retail price per 750ml bottle. At the ¥380 – ¥880 range are the “price fighters” and “discount wines” that are distributed through large scale retail outlets, supermarket chains and casual food service outlets. At the mid-price range of ¥1000 to ¥1500 (approximately A$12 to A$18) are Australian, French and Italian wines. The French and Italian wines dominate this segment although Australian wines can compete with them by demonstrating cost performance. At the high end of the wine market is the premium wines segment priced from ¥1500 to ¥3000. These wines are often served during special occasions and distributed in specialized wine outlets, first class hotels and restaurants.

Keys to success

Succeeding in the Japanese market requires a combination of the right distributor, strong support for the distributor and a unique marketing story behind the Australian wine product. The Japanese are renowned for their attention to detail and high quality production. Focusing on the excellent quality of Australian wine and the unique story behind its production will appeal to the Japanese consumer and divert their attention away from price differences among wine competitors.

Other things to consider when attempting to import Australian wine are the usual duties and charges, currently set at ¥125 per litre or CIF 15 per cent, whichever is higher for still wines and at ¥182 per litre for sparkling wines. Liquor tax also applies.

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