Uva española exportada al mercado vinícola en Asia

Southeast Asian countries have been politically grouped since 1967 in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and commercially since late 2015 in the ASEAN Economic Community. Together, they make up a market of 667 million consumers which, despite global crises and regional recessions in recent years, continues to grow at an average of 5% annually. This growth is closely related to the Wine Market in Asia, largely due to the emergence of an upper-middle class with Westernized tastes and spending capacity, associating wine consumption with a certain income level.

Hence, it is important to understand this sector in some of the countries that are members of ASEAN, especially in the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, as all four are included in Group 3, Annex III of Royal Decree 1363/2018, dated November 2, for the implementation of support program measures 2019-2023 for the Spanish wine sector. This Annex prioritizes promotional activities carried out in these countries over others in the region, making them even more essential despite all countries being eligible for promotional activities.

To contribute to the penetration of our companies into these markets or at least their approach to them, I will briefly present their characteristics – offerings, consumer profiles, and trends – as well as their stakeholders – importers and distributors – and regulations – primarily tariffs and taxes. It is important to note that the brief overview of the wine market in Asia presented here requires adaptation of the content to each specific case if designing an appropriate strategic policy tailored to each market is desired.

WINE MARKET IN ASIA: PHILIPPINES AND MALAYSIA

PHILIPPINES

1. Characteristics:

The wine market in the Philippines, despite limited local consumer awareness and various taxes imposed on it, is a rapidly expanding market. The value of wine consumption has increased by 60% in recent years and is expected to increase by 40% according to all forecasts. Spanish wine currently ranks second in volume and third in value, but faces competition from American and Australian wines gaining ground.

2. Market:

In the Filipino market, wine, like other imported products in the Asian wine market, is subject to various tariffs and taxes. One prerequisite to consider is obtaining the Product Registration Certificate, which can only be requested by the importer holding the Operating License. Therefore, collaboration between the Spanish exporter and the Filipino importer is essential for this registration. Since 2014, registration can be done electronically, with a validity of 2 to 5 years, extendable for an additional 5 years.

Furthermore, current Filipino regulations require specific criteria for wine importation including alcohol content (7-16%), acidity (0.4-1.5g/100ml), acetic acid (0.08-0.12g/100ml), and sugars (0.1-9.6% by weight). Labeling requirements must include the country of origin, manufacturer’s name and address, importer’s name and address, alcohol content, net volume, language (English or Tagalog), and full ingredient list.

Regarding tariffs, they amount to 7% of the CIF price, while special taxes are based on alcohol content and imported liter, with an annual increase of about 4%. For a wine with an alcohol content equal to or less than 14%, this tax would be around 33 Philippine Pesos (PHP) or approximately €0.5 per liter; if based on sales, it would be 12% of the CIF price. These tariffs and taxes should be complemented with corresponding commercial margins in the distribution chain (wholesale, retail, Horeca, etc.)

Price variations are significant, with red wines being more expensive than white wines and American wines pricier than Spanish ones. For instance, an American red wine from Napa Valley can reach €41 per bottle, while a Spanish wine from La Rioja of equivalent or superior quality stays below €23. However, certain Rioja or Ribera del Duero brands may exceed €65 or even €67 in some vintages, possibly influenced by Spanish cuisine in the Philippines or the higher presence of Spanish restaurants compared to other countries in the region.

3. Strategies:

With a growing economy and an expanding wine market, indications suggest that wine consumption, particularly red wine, will continue to rise. This trend in the Asian wine market should be leveraged by Spanish companies not only to maintain our country’s second position in volume and third in value but also to strive to surpass the United States’ current leading position. Achieving this goal will require a consistent and persistent commercial strategy supported by importers and distributors, along with appropriate promotions and marketing efforts.

MALAYSIA

1. Characteristics:

If the wine market in the Philippines is influenced by legal, economic, and social factors, the same applies to the wine market in Malaysia, with two notable aspects, one positive and one negative. The positive aspect is that Malaysia is a country on the threshold of full economic development, with a prepared, dynamic population experiencing increasing purchasing power. The negative aspect is that the majority Muslim religion among the Malay ethnicity prohibits wine consumption, yet private consumption continues to increase. Overall, the sector shows promising prospects, expected to grow at an annual rate of 6% in the coming years.

The typical consumer profile is of a person belonging to the Chinese or Indian ethnicity, the expatriate community, or the tourist collective, with consumption habits increasingly aligned with Western products. Wine imports from countries like Australia, Singapore, and France are targeted at this consumer profile, with Spain ranking eighth with a 2.3% share compared to Australia’s 33.7%, Singapore’s 31.3% – a share affected mainly by parallel imports and re-exports – and France’s 13.5%.

In terms of prices, Australian and Chilean wines are among the lowest, around 40 RM per bottle (approximately €10); French or Italian wines are the highest, occasionally reaching 1,000 RM (about €250); while Spanish wines fall in between, ranging from 45 RM (around €11) to 120 RM (approximately €30). Generally, the best-selling wines fall within the price range of 53 RM (about €13) to 93 RM (around €23). Red wine, usually the most consumed type, accounting for up to 75% of total consumption, is often enjoyed in restaurants, bars, and hotels, associated with a certain social status and cultural refinement.

2. Market:

Despite lacking quotas or restrictions unlike Indonesia for example, access to the Malaysian market is subject to tariff and non-tariff barriers. Tariff barriers primarily include: a) import licenses (granted by customs authorities), contingent upon two additional licenses – alcohol sale and supply licenses and premises licenses for wine sales (issued by municipal authorities); and b) labeling requirements specifying product details, alcohol content, ingredients, and manufacturer and importer details in English or Malay.

Tariff barriers consist of three types: a) tariff (around 7 RM: approximately €1.7); b) special taxes (12 RM – €3 – per imported liter plus 15% of the commodity value: CIF value + tariff); and c) sales tax (5%). These tariffs on wine are established in accordance with Malaysian customs regulations and must be annually reviewed as they may vary. While they pose challenges for market access, they are not dissimilar to those faced by French or Italian exporters, for instance.

3. Strategies:

The strategy of Spanish companies in this and other Asian wine markets can generally be summarized as lacking a cohesive strategy. While there are occasional marketing campaigns and promotional policies, they often lack the necessary continuity and repetition to be effective. As a result, unlike French and Italian wines, Spanish wines lack a national image to support them and connect with the end consumer. In general, except for very few exceptions, our wineries tend not to focus on positioning their products in the market, leaving their fate in the hands of importers or distributors.

CONCLUSIONS OF THE WINE MARKET IN ASIA

1.- This article provides a brief overview based on official information, author’s experience in the Wine Market in Asia, and AVCO LEGAL’s presence in Southeast Asia. It should be complemented with additional data covering the analyzed aspects more comprehensively.

2.- The examined regulations, especially concerning tariffs and taxes, should be regularly reviewed. They do not substitute legal advice or consultation.

3.- Spanish wines are of high quality but lack effective commercial strategies compared to French and Italian wines due to insufficient planning, coordination with local importers/distributors, and continuity over time.

4.- The challenges posed by the Asian wine market should not deter foreign exporters as they offer numerous business opportunities amidst growing wine consumption trends.

5.- European wines like French and Italian wines are successfully penetrating Asian markets prompting reflection on why Spanish wines lag behind and how this issue can be addressed.

6.- In summary, the Southeast Asian wine market presents promising growth opportunities driven by an expanding upper-middle class’s demand for wine. For further insights on Thailand and Vietnam markets, you may refer to our post: “SOUTHEAST ASIAN WINE MARKET: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN ASEAN (II)

Antonio Viñal
Lawyer
AVCO Legal
madrid@avco.legal