Singapore is a mature and yet ever-growing market for the wine consumption and distribution businesses, as virtually all wines sold and consumed domestically are evidently not home-made, considering its size and climate. With some 5.5 million people, an impressively high per capita GDP, a luxury-oriented and multicultural lifestyle, 15% of the population however does not drink alcohol in any form. Additionally, roughly 20% of the population is not of legal age to drink, as in Singapore minors are prohibited from drinking alcohol. Therefore, most alcohol products are not suitable for personal or legal reasons to almost 35% of the Singapore population. This entails that those who drink alcohol actually make up for those who do not in a pretty significant way, in terms of both consumption, expertise and expenditure. Having said that, whilst Singaporeans, whether citizens or members of the large and equally diverse foreign residents’ community, have a penchant for dining and drinking out, a mix of a law-abiding attitude, proper enforcement of rules, high consumer prices and a relatively conservative mindset means that the rate of per capita alcohol consumption is around 2 litres per annum only, the lowest in the Asia-Pacific region, and includes all types of alcoholic beverages (wines, spirits, beers etc.).
According to a 2018 World Health Organisation report, men drank three times more than women.
Beers stands out as the absolute winner in the pool, with 70% of the total consumption of alcohol. Over 11 million litres of alcohol are consumed in Singapore annually and out of these wines contribute about 1.54 million litres. The wine market in Singapore is developing steadily and, at the same time, prices are rising due to a demand composed of generally wealthy consumers, generalised higher production costs and tax increases on the import of alcohol.
Regardless of the small domestic market size – in litres –, over 600 companies are holders of licenses for the legal sales of alcohol, mainly due to Singapore’s role as global hub for business and leisure. In fact, revenues in the wine segment should amount at the time of writing (January 2022) to USD740 in 2022. By 2025, 80% of spending and 58% of volume consumption in the wine segment will be attributable to out-of-home consumption (e.g. in bars and restaurants).
Since a whopping six Southeast Asian Countries claimed the top-10 as emerging sales markets for producers and exporters (Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia), without of course forgetting relatively nearby China, the majority of wine imported to Singapore is re-exported to other markets, due to Singapore’s pivotal role in the region and farther beyond, as well as its leading role within the ASEAN Economic Community, where it stands out for rule of law, ease of doing business and pro-business tax measures. For these reasons, an impressive 50% of producers from France, Italy and Spain list Singapore as their choice of emerging market and so does 1/3 of New World wine exporters.
The top three exporters are France, Australia and Chile. Government’s data show that six exporting countries compose about 86% of wine imports. However, considering the diversity and curiosity that characterise Singapore-based consumers, there is increasing space for wines coming from relatively smaller producing regions, such as Portugal or Lebanon. The same is true for niche labels: whilst top-notch French or Italian names, as well as special editions or vintage bottles are a sure bet for “Crazy Rich Asians” styled consumers, niche, quality products, particularly organic wines, do enjoy significant growth forecasts. Other sparkling wines, notably Prosecco, for instance, are gaining ground, also due to their competitive price, against market leaders (Champagne). Having mentioned these types of wines, it must be noted nonetheless that, for every bottle of any sparkling wine, three of still (red, in particular) are sold.
Local sales, finally include a relatively small portion that is purchased by wealthy non-resident consumers from neighbouring markets, who trust Singapore more than their very own Countries, when it comes to preserving a quality and authentic bottle.