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  • Going global: Nova Scotia wineries finding success in China

Going global: Nova Scotia wineries finding success in China

Thursday, May 31, 2018

One of Canada’s smaller provinces, Nova Scotia was once unknown on the world stage. In recent years, this small peninsula on the North Atlantic has dramatically increased its global footprint; shipping goods across the Atlantic Ocean and developing a strong relationship with the lucrative Chinese market.

Since 2011, the value of Nova Scotia exports to China grew by 331%, making it the province’s second-largest trading partner. Initiatives such as the Nova Scotia-China Engagement Strategy and memberships in the Canadian Chambers of Commerce in Hong Kong and Shanghai have played important roles in enabling Nova Scotia’s companies to build connections and better understand this growing consumer base. 

Government officials and private businesses across sectors have been making the journey from Eastern Canada to Eastern Asia to identify opportunities, attend trade shows, and meet with companies on the ground.

In addition to China’s strong demand for quality seafood from Nova Scotia, the province’s premium wineries are finding their niche in the major markets of Hong Kong and mainland China. For companies that are already exporting outside of Canada, taking the leap to export to China may be easier than it seems.

Interested in doing business in Shanghai, China? Nova Scotia Business Inc., through its relationship with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (CanCham), is extending its membership benefits to Nova Scotia exporters ready to do business in Shanghai. Learn more

Gillian Mainguy, Sales Director for Nova Scotia winery Benjamin Bridge, believes it’s more manageable than many would expect. “There were really no big, surprising differences between exporting to China and exporting to the UK or northern Europe. You’ve got to do your research, do your paperwork and certifications, but it’s not necessarily more difficult. It takes a little longer, but having a presence there is very exciting.”

Last year, Benjamin Bridge decided to build on its success at home and take their award-winning wines to China. After attending an industry trade show, they’re realizing the potential of China as an export market.

“Our sparkling wine, Nova 7, has been received very well. After our first visit last year, we were so impressed with the level of interest we received and the quality of leads we were getting. It has to be the right fit, as we’re selling a premium product, but there is a definite interest in Canadian products there. The trip was very worthwhile and as a result of it we were able to secure a deal in mainland China.” 

Domaine de Grand Pré, another producer of premium Nova Scotia wines, has also broken into the market despite many consumers not being familiar with Canadian wines. President & CEO, Hanspeter Stutz, says, “Many people in China don’t know about Canadian wines, but they’re very impressed by the quality. They’re also very open to trying new products. Hong Kong is an extremely sophisticated market, with an excellent food and wine scene. Expectations are high and it is very competitive, so it’s important to find your niche and really have a story to tell behind your product.”

In addition to having a great product with a captivating story to share, the secret to finding the right customers in Hong Kong and the mainland is all about relationships.

“China is all about connections.  Connecting with people on the ground has been very important for us. Trade Commissioners have been helpful, but Chambers of Commerce really know the businesses there. We will certainly be back”.

With a growing number of Nova Scotia companies entering the global marketplace and realizing the potential of new and larger regions, the province’s food and beverage exports are on the rise, growing 37% in just one year.

Consumers in China and Hong Kong are changing, and their growing demand for high-quality products is creating a world of opportunity for businesses across all industries. Given the connections, opportunities, and guidance that is available to Canadian businesses, companies have only begun to scratch the surface of China’s prosperous market.