Wine to Thailand
Trends and opportunities
Thailand’s wine culture is growing, creating a new dynamism in the imported
wine market. Driven by a very large and buoyant tourism market and
increased awareness and consumption of wines as a social lubricant by
Thais, there is continuing opportunity for Australian producers in this
market, from lower value through to premium wines.
Consumption of alcoholic beverages across Thailand is around 3.1 billion
litres per year. Around 75 per cent of volume consumed is beer followed by locally
produced white spirits. Imported wines account for around 1.5 per cent of alcohol
consumption – but between 10 per cent to 15 per cent value.
Although Thailand is broadly characterised as a price sensitive market,
specialist retailers report their strongest recent growth is within their
mid to high premium priced brands. Growth in sales of premium wines is
supported by a large and growing tourism sector with the highest total
spend on food and beverage in ASEAN, an expanding fine-dining sector in
Bangkok, and promotions by specialist retailers to sommeliers and the
targeting of high spending consumers.
In 2016 Thailand imported approximately 12.6 million litres of wines, worth
about 1.771 billion Baht (US$ 50.1 million).
Australia was the second highest by volume and value supplier of wine to
Thailand accounting for 2.535 million litres valued at 465 million Baht (26.3 per cent) of imports. South Africa was the largest supplier by volume 2.955
million litres, valued at 71 million Baht (4.02 per cent or 6th highest
France imported the third highest volume of 2.120 million litres but is the
highest value supplier at 702 million Baht (39.65 per cent of total imports value).
This demonstrates the recognition of France not only as a supplier of
premium wines, but strong brand recognition of its growing regions within
2016 Thailand imports of Sparkling, Still, Fortified Wines (HS 2204+)
Volume (million litres)
Value US $Thousand
(Source: Trade Map 2016)
Wine preferences and prices
Australian wine has a good reputation in Thailand and is regarded as a good
In general, Thais prefer strong, bold, punchy and heavier wines. The
best-selling varieties are Shiraz and Shiraz blends. New world wines are
becoming understood and accepted by locals, however knowledge of
Australia’s growing regions remains low.
Over 50 per cent of Australian wine imports into Thailand are from South
Eastern Australia or blends from the region. Other popular varietals for
red wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. Chardonnay
and Sauvignon Blanc are well-known white varieties.
Importers have become well-schooled in selecting wines, and often source
new products to replace more expensive brands considered lower quality than
new offerings. Premium wine although remaining a niche market is growing,
driven largely by the promotion of French wine regions, which in part
accounts for that country’s dominance in premium sales and as a go-to
choice for premium consumers.
According to local importers, of all wine consumed in Thailand the biggest
volume of sales is of 750ml bottles with a retail price range of A$17 to $40. Thai importers therefore usually select wines with a retail price
between A$22 to $44 FOB/case (12 bottles), but there are also opportunities
to export smaller volumes of higher quality wines with price points over
Australian wines receive preferential treatment from the
Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, providing considerable advantage over most other wine producing
Major retailers are establishing specialist wine cellars and most now carry
a large number of recognisable Australian brands.
Opportunities exist for lower-cost private-label bottling for the major
hypermarkets or wholesalers such as Tesco or Makro, as well as for
five-star hotels. The opportunity to promote and sell to the burgeoning,
high quality HORECA trade should not be disregarded.
Table wine is typically sold at a local equivalent retail price range of:
- low-cost: A$15 to A$30
- medium: A$30 to A$50
- high/premium: A$50 to A$250
- super premium: from A$250
Tariffs, regulations and customs
Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement
provides Australian wine producers with preferential treatment (with a zero
tariff) over other wine exporting counties (with the exception of Chile
which has an FTA and New Zealand which has 0 per cent through its Closer Economic
Partnership with Thailand). Wine from almost all other countries are
subject to a 54 per cent import duty (Source: DFAT,
Key Outcomes of the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, March 2015)
This benefit to Australian wine exporters multiplies after the application
of Thailand’s heavy and complex alcohol excise and VAT tax regime – to
where Australian wines (over 1,000 baht) can be around 65 per cent cheaper than
wines from other countries (the exception Chile and New Zealand) when the
same mark-up is applied. (Source: Austrade calculations)
In addition to import tariffs, imported wines are subject to other duties,
fees and taxes:
- Surcharge / Special duty (US$ 10 per import lot)
Customs Fee US$ 50
- Alcohol Excise tax: the rate is Baht 1,500 per litre of alcoholic content
for a wine bottle not exceeding Baht 1,000 (retail). Wine priced higher than Baht 1,000 (at retail) will be taxed at 10 per cent of its price and Baht 1,500
per liter of alcoholic content.
Municipal / interior tax: 10 per cent
- Health support project: 2 per cent, based on CIF/FOB value
Public broadcasting subsidy: 2 per cent
- from January 2018 – Elderly foundation tax: 1.5 per cent
Value added tax (VAT): 7 per cent, based on retail price
It is important for exporters to note that these complex duties, fees and taxes are managed by importers and distributors, and despite these taxes Australia maintains a price advantage over most other country suppliers.
Marketing your products and services
Before any wines can be imported into Thailand, each individual wine label
must be registered with the Excise Department of the Ministry of Finance in
Thailand. Once the registration is complete, an import permit will be
issued allowing that particular company to import the wine. This is
undertaken by the importer/distributor.
Only a Thai company can register a wine and apply for an import permit, so
appointing a local importer/distributor to manage the importing and
government formalities is a must.
Price and promotional support are the major determining factors in the
purchasing decision. While Thai law prohibits promotion of all alcohol,
combined wine/food tasting events by invitation are common in the market.
Once the wines are in the Thai market, an effective marketing strategy
(given restrictions on open advertising of alcohol) is to conduct food and
wine promotions aimed at the target audience at leading hotels and
restaurants, in conjunction with local importers/distributors. This kind of
promotion is not against the law as it is conducted at a specific time and
Austrade can assist with the search for potential wine importers or by
organising wine tasting functions for Australian wine exporters in order to
reach target groups and potential importers/distributors.
Wine importers also act as distributors through four major channels:
- retail trade – hypermarket, supermarket, and convenience stores
- hotels and entertainment venues
- specialty wine shops.
Although wholesalers may on-sell to the other three channels, there is an
agreement that there should be no overlap. Traditionally, between 30 to 40
per cent of wines are sold on premise, but the trend is shifting towards
the retail trade.
Premium wines are distributed through specialised wine outlets, online
shopping, mail-order/catalogue, upper-tier hotels and restaurants.
Air freight is used to ship product samples in small quantities. Small
sample lots can be received by Austrade at the Australian Embassy in
Bangkok, by special prior arrangement to minimise duty on samples.
Exporters should make direct contact with Austrade Bangkok for further
information on this.
Qantas freight and Thai Airways International air cargo transport goods
between major ports in Australia and Thailand.
Large volumes of products are transported by sea freight, which takes two
weeks from Australia to Thailand, but it is more cost-effective than air
freight. Lower shipping costs will enable your wine to be more competitive
in the market. Timing shipments to arrive at the start of the working week
will also enable faster processing and less storage charges than shipments
arriving just before the weekend.
Once imported products arrive in Thailand and duties have been paid, they
can be transported freely within the country. You should consider a good
freight forwarder, insurance company and customs broker for shipping your
products to Thailand.
Links and industry contacts
Royal Thai Customs Department
Thailand Excise Department
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