Logistics to grow with Asia’s taste for alcohol

Greater access to information and Asia’s burgeoning middle class are changing consumer and dietary tastes across the continent in many different ways, driving demand for imported products as diverse as bread, powdered baby milk, luxury cars and the latest pharma products. But a key growth market in Asia for logistics service providers that is often overlooked is the international trade and local distribution of alcoholic beverages.

In Asia the total consumption of alcohol is increasing and, in many markets, imports of luxury brands are now gaining a firmer grip on the market, creating new markets for those with the networks to reach them.

Imports of wine to China increased a staggering 1,040% in the five years through 2011 as the People’s Republic leapfrogged Japan to become Asia’s biggest market for overseas wineries. Last year almost one in five bottles of wine opened in China was imported.

Although France retains its market leadership in Asian wine markets, even the US exported some 23m bottles to China in 2013, up from almost zero a decade before.

More growth is predicted and not just from China. Asia, according to the latest figures from International Wine and Spirit Research, will be the driving force in global consumption of alcohol in the medium and long-term.

According to the IWSR Forecast Report 2014-2019, Asia’s total yearly consumption of beer, wine, spirits and mixed drinks will surge to almost 1.2bn nine-litre cases by 2019. By contrast, consumption in Europe is forecast to contract by 27.2m cases over the same period, a result of steady decline in both beer and wine categories.

China and India are predicted to be the largest-growing spirits markets between 2013 and 2019, together accounting for a rise of 120.5m cases in yearly spirits consumption. The dominance of the Asian market is evidenced by the fact that the US set to be the only non-Asian market to appear among the top five largest growth markets over the period.

Although local spirits will continue to account for much of the increase in alcohol consumption across Asia, imports will also gain a far larger foothold in the years ahead. This will generate much needed new trade flows and boost ocean backhaul traffic from the US and Europe into Asia.

Expect the likes of beverage logistics specialist JF Hillebrand and DHL’s wine logistics subsidiary Giorgio Gori to benefit from the rise in logistics demand that such market growth will facilitate.