Vinitaly opened its China roadshow together with the Italian Trade Agency (ICE) in Beijing at the Hotel Conrad, just steps from the central neighbourhood of Sanlitun. A total of 50 companies presented 500 brands with a record programme of 800 B2B meetings with importers, buyers, and local distributors. "It's a really good start, the result of the extraordinary work of Vinitaly and ICE, which shared their databases to allow this incredible participation," said Giovanni Mantovani, director general of Veronafiere, which owns the Vinitaly brand. Mantovani told ANSA that the Far East will be an increasingly strategic area for Veronafiere's activities, with new initiatives in China and Japan. In the wine sector, the area is expected to become equal to that of North America. By day's end, 1,200 people had visited, which organisers said confirms the growing interest in China for Italian wine. In addition to Beijing, the roadshow will stop in Zhengzhou (June 19), Xi'an (June 20) e Guangzhou (June 22), where more than 1,000 requests were made for B2B meetings. Mantovani said upcoming initiatives in China include a joint venture in which Veronafiere would have 51% with Pacco, a Chinese company specialised in event organisation and creation. The first joint initiative is planned for June 2020 in Shenzhen, with an event dedicated to the younger generations who are more predisposed to embrace the wine culture. In Japan, Mantovani said a three-year dedicated project is in the works. "Italian wine needs to increase its position in a market where demand has grown 106% in the last five years, last year reaching a record 2.4 million euros, making China the fourth-highest buyer country worldwide, following USA, Germany, and Great Britain," Mantovani said. The Far East market overall has a value of 6.4 billion. The trend of wine in China, following the peak of 2017, had a positive 2018, while the first four months of 2019 have reflected pressures on the economy in the wake of the trade war between the US and China. ICE's Beijing director Amadeo Scarpa said, however, that Italy's "pace is holding up" despite the difficulties. France, for example, has lost 20% to 30%, while Italy gained the fourth position overall last year, surpassing Spain. "We're on the right track," Scarpa said. "The proof is in the effectiveness of the multi-level promotional activities that ICE and the Economy Ministry put in the field with the initiative 'I Love ITAlian Wines' and the synergy developed with experienced and qualified partners such as Vinitaly," he said. "As of now we have trained more than 660 professional Chinese promoters on Italian wine in China, with 18 editions of the course in 12 cities in two years, and reached more than 300 million points of contact on the Chinese web with the media plan ITAlian Wine: Taste the Passion!," Scarpa said.
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