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May 30, 2022 View:

Japanese wine imports to fall 7% in 2020 due to epidemic

Japanese wine imports fell 7.0 percent in 2020 compared with the previous year, according to government data from Japan, which was attributed to a stay-at-home pandemic caused by a new coronavirus that curbed demand in restaurants and bars, Kyodo News reported.

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Meanwhile, imports of Chilean wine rose 4.0 percent, making the South American country Japan"s largest wine supplier for the sixth consecutive year, according to Japan's Ministry of Finance.

Total bottled wine imports fell to 163.9 million liters in 2020 from 176.29 million liters in 2019. This compares with a 6.0% increase in imports in 2019 over 2018, due to a spike in European wine imports after Japan eliminated tariffs on European wines following the signing of a free trade agreement with the EU, which came into effect in February of that year.

Of Japan's five largest wine exporters in the annual report, only Chile achieved an annual increase, from 47.21 million liters to 49.1 million liters.

France ranked second with 45.25 million liters, down from 47.12 million liters. Italy, Spain and the United States followed, with totals of 28.36 million liters, 18.68 million liters and 6.39 million liters, respectively.

Japanese wine sales are believed to have fallen about 10 percent last year from a year earlier, according to Japanese producers, and Keiko Yoshino, president of Suntory wine International Ltd. said it has seen a shift in consumer demand for wine from commercial consumption to home consumption.

In early April last year, the Japanese government declared the first state of emergency for the flu outbreak in Tokyo and six prefectures, urging people to stay home and non-essential businesses such as restaurants and bars to suspend operations.