Moutai liquor sales boom before Spring Festival

Updated: 2011-01-12 08:00

(China Daily)

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BEIJING - Renowned domestic liquor producer Kweichow Moutai has been enjoying brisk sales as people around the country prepare to celebrate Spring Festival, or the lunar new year, the most important traditional Chinese holiday.

"You're lucky, because our shop's supplies of 53-degree Flying Moutai (the brand's best-selling product) were replenished with a dozen bottles today. We were out of stock last week," Gong Peihong, a salesperson at Wu Mart in Beijing, told customers on Tuesday.

"But the price is 1,099 yuan ($165.8) a bottle instead of 959 yuan. You'd better buy quickly. I expect the remaining 10 bottles will sell out within 12 hours."

On Jan 1 this year, the producer raised the wholesale price of a bottle of Flying Moutai by 20 percent to 619 yuan. It suggested a maximum retail price of 959 yuan, 90 yuan more than usual.

However, many shops are selling Flying Moutai at prices exceeding 1,300 yuan a bottle in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang province, and one store in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong province, is retailing it at 1,990 yuan a bottle.

"The new price applies to Moutai boutiques but not to other stores," Gong said.

Wine Association of Hangzhou head Xu Youlin attributed the short supply of Moutai to the icy weather that has disrupted transportation of the liquor from its production base in Guizhou province.

More sleet will fall on most of Guizhou over the next two days, the National Meteorological Center had forecast.

Speculation may also be contributing to the increase in Moutai prices, with a bottle produced in 1958 selling for more than 1.45 million yuan at an auction in Hangzhou on Sept 14 last year, Zhejiang Academy of Social Sciences researcher Yang Jianhua said.

Many private Chinese investors are speculating on the price of such goods as tea, wine, gold, china and liquor.

Those who buy Moutai regardless of the cost often do not drink it, Yang said.

Flying Moutai is a classic favorite as a festival gift and is given to parents, bosses, friends and relatives. Other Moutai products' prices have remained comparatively steady, Gong said.

The 53-degree Flying Moutai brand earned its title as "China's national liquor" because it is the white spirit national leaders and diplomats offer visiting dignitaries.

Late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai toasted then the United States President Richard Nixon with Moutai when Nixon visited China in 1972. The visit paved the way for the normalization of relations between the two countries.

The liquor was also served to then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984 after the signing of the agreement that returned Hong Kong to China in July 1997.

Kweichow Moutai announced at its suppliers conference last Thursday that its 2010 sales revenue was 15 billion yuan - 2 billion yuan more than its initial target.

Despite booming business, Kweichow Moutai's stock opened 0.36 percent lower at 173.68 yuan a share on Tuesday.

Spring Festival is a time when Chinese families members gather for celebratory reunions. The festival falls on Feb 3 this year.



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