CHINESE SPIRIT IS MOVING WEST
Get ready for baijiu! Never heard of it? You will soon enough. Baijiu, China’s immensely popular local liquor, is planning to go global. Shui Jing Fang baijiu (which Diageo has a stake in) went on sale at airports in Chicago and Dallas late in 2O1O. Three other US airports are due to come on-stream early this year followed by two in Europe. Although 4 billion liters of baijiu a year are consumed in China, according to Euromonitor, it has fewer fans overseas. But China is hoping to change that. Initially, baijiu will be targeted at Chinese tourists and the Chinese diaspora. There were about 5O million Chinese tourists travelling overseas last year. By 2O2O, the UN World Tourism Organisation expects that to reach 1OO million. The outward push comes despite huge growth in the home market. This has attracted makers of Cognac and Scotch whisky, but their numbers pale besides those of baijiu. Cognac sells 18 million liters in China to baijiu’s 4 billion. It may not be the easiest sell to the rest of the world, however. Asian spirits are often an acquired taste and the moderate success of others like sake and Korean shochu overseas is not hugely encouraging. But who knows, it could be the next big trend.