Coronavirus has had a significant impact on countless industries, but hospitality has arguably been hit hardest. Social distancing regulations have led to worldwide shutdowns of bars and hotels, which has naturally had a knock-on effect on the alcohol trade. Baijiu sales overseas were already struggling, and now it appears that India may stop consuming the spirit due to political differences with China.
India does not have a liquor to call their own. While baijiu is as synonymous with China as vodka is with Russia, the Indian market settles for replicating traditional European recipes. These spirits are referred to as Indian-made foreign liquor, aka IMFL. The distributor VBev India, however, brought Jiangxiaobai baijiu into the nation some seven months ago.
Whiskey is by far the most popular spirit in India, accounting for around 75% of liquor sales. Indian nationals were starting to develop a taste for baijiu, however. That’s according to Sumedh Singh Mandla, CEO of VBev India, who described the Chinese spirit as having a tropical taste comparable to pineapple.
Unfortunately, tensions on the border between China and India have driven Indian consumers to begin turning their back on baijiu. VBev India has vowed to review their partnership with Jiangxiaobai in the face of this change in circumstances, adamant that baijiu remains a niche product. Unlike staples such as whiskey, wine or vodka, VBev India feels they can cease distribution of baijiu and suffer no consequences to their bottom line.
Naturally, COVID-19 hasn’t helped. Consumers have lacked the time to truly embrace baijiu as public gatherings have been prohibited. India was placed in a countrywide lockdown, much like many nations, ahead of a planned second-phase rollout of Jiangxiaobai. Where it was initially hoped to study statistics based on a twelve-month sales cycle, this option has been snatched away from VBev India.
VBev India is adamant that Jiangxiaobai understands the delicacy of the situation, and will not create any difficulty if the partnership is terminated. It would be a shame if the trial was forced to be placed on hold, however, without truly getting the opportunity to yield results. With sales taking an inevitable tumble in China, many baijiu manufacturers will be hoping to improve sales figures overseas. For now, it appears that the west will be the last, best hope to achieve this.
Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8
A bottle of V.I.P Jiu 8 together with a bottle of Moutai Flying Fairy was sent to a UK laboratory for analysis. The laboratory was a registered member of UKAS – The United Kingdom Accreditation Service that is recognised by the UK government when comparing products to internationally agreed standards.
The laboratory concluded that the two bottles were very different, with sample A (VIP Jiu 8) being considerably more complex than sample B (Kweichow Moutai Flying Fairy). The laboratory also concluded that sample A (VIP Jiu 8) contains many more compounds with positive attributes than sample B (Kweichow Moutai Flying Fairy).
Further Reading: VIP Jiu 8 Vs Moutai