How to export wine? China Distributor Channels. How to distribute your wine in China. One you know who are your potential wine buyers and their habits, you have to know how to distribute your fine wine there.

In China, wholesalers, retailers, restaurants, caterers, and distributors all sell wine to individuals and businesses in both small and large quantities. A clear distinction between what is retail and what is not seems not to exist, which makes it difficult to analyse the total market size.

Traditionally, there are two sales channels for wine – retail and HoReCa (hotels, restaurants & cafes). Evidence suggests that 70%- 80% of wine sales occur in the Horeca channel. However these figures differ greatly from the 50:50 ratios that industry bodies state.. This again demonstrates the problems of data accuracy covering the retail sector.

The leading wine distributors of imported premium wine are still foreign companies, many of which have been in the wine business in China for a decade or more. These companies traditionally started serving premium foreign hotels and have grown into the Horeca channels and many now have retail affiliations and are aggressively pursuing the gift market. 

The established distribution companies are frequently approached by overseas suppliers, including companies from France or Italy, but are reluctant to take on additional labels unless they are a “sure bet” and are supported by significant marketing and financial support. This reflects the relative immaturity of the market and the fact that imported wine, especially at the premium end, is still out of the reach or unknown to most consumers.

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