At the close of the 16th VINEXPO wine and spirit exhibition, the overriding mood was optimism. “This exhibition has been an undeniable success. All the comments from exhibitors, visitors and the media, are very positive,” said M Xavier de Eizaguirre, Chairman of VINEXPO.
What is more the UK and USA showed they are back in business on the world wine and spirits stage by figuring among the largest number of visitors. The 2,400 exhibitors in particular were especially satisfied with their business meetings and encouraged by the energetic atmosphere which characterised five days of hard work.
“VINEXPO is most definitely a very productive exhibition for discovering new products but also for doing business,” said David Bolzan, Managing Director of Cordier Mestrezat Grands Crus. That view was shared by Maz Shapira, President of Heaven Hill Distilleries, USA.“Heaven Hill has exhibited since 1999. We believe VINEXPO is a valuable tool in the marketing and sales process.”
The quality of business contacts, the number of meetings and tasting occasions, deals concluded successfully, productive professional discussion: all contributed to creating great business conditions at the world’s leading wine and spirit exhibition. “VINEXPO is the best exhibition we have attended in recent years. We negotiated export deals with ten countries including China, Sweden and Canada,” said Andreia Gentilini, Export Director for Wines of Brasil.
The final visitor numbers will be announced shortly, but indications by the end of the fourth day suggest a number in the order of 48,000 wine and spirits professionals, or 3% more than in 2009.
Other trends were apparent. By day four it was clear that the number of foreign visitors (non French) was going to set a record with, in particular, an exceptionally strong presence from Asia which contributed one visitor in three.
China showed its strength and growing interest in wine by doubling the number of participants. The major purchasers from Japan were well represented at VINEXPO, despite their recent problems. Larger numbers of visitors were noted from Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and India.
M Robert Beynat, CEO of VINEXPO, said: “The number of visitors from Asia exceeded our most optimistic forecasts. The Asian presence confirms our research on the outlook for world wine and spirits business”.
The second big development was the return of business interest from the UK and USA. The UK recorded the second largest number of foreign visitors followed by the USA, accounting jointly for around 10% of the total. Canada, represented by buyers from the national monopolies, was in fifth place.
Mike Harrison, Sales Development Director of Berry Brothers and Rudd, said: “We got off to a busy start and noted that a good 50% of stand visitors were from Asia. We look to VINEXPO to attract premium distribution business and nothing suggests we will be disappointed”.
William Wemyss, Group CEO of Wemyss Malts and Darnley’s View Gin, said: “We saw a high quality of visitor from countries such as Canada, Russia, Scandinavia and Spain asking sensible questions and clearly knowing what they wanted, ie aged whisky and premium gin”.
“We met more than 200 producers and signed contracts for exports to the USA involving 50 products”, said Bethany Frick, Buying Director for US company Total Wine & More.
Among visitors from European countries, buyers from Germany and Belgium were a notable presence, as well as Dutch, Russians and Swiss.
The number of visitors from France was similar to 2009 (more than 30,700) as it was for other European countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal.
The new sampling salons and labs, grouped under the title Tastings by VINEXPO, and the seminars were a big success and were attended by more than 13,000 people seeking new products, market insights and know-how.
Communication and personal contact was aided by the introduction this year of Twitter and Facebook as well as improved WiFi connections.
Final figures will be made available in the week beginning June 27, 2011.