Raising a glass to Moutai, China’s ‘national liquor’
More and more people could be lifting their spirits, the Chinese way.
For Moutai, China’s leading liquor producer, the new buzzwords are technological innovation and continuous expansion into overseas markets, and the brand is getting a shot in the arm in San Francisco.
On Nov 12, Kweichow Moutai Group kicked off a series of celebrations by hosting a grand banquet and product exhibition at the Palace of Fine Arts to commemorate the first anniversary of Moutai Day in San Francisco.
A delegation led by Li Baofang, general manager of Kweichow Moutai Group of Guizhou, is on a mission to strengthen liquor cultural integration with its Western counterparts, enhance communications with global consumers and help facilitate China-US relations through a variety of platforms that involve people, business and governments on both sides.
During Moutai’s overseas centennial celebration held
Moutai has played a big part in China’s international relations.” Li Baofang, general manager, Kweichow Moutai Group
at San Francisco City Hall last year, Mayor Ed Lee named Nov 12 the city’s Moutai Day.
In his speech to 500 guests on Saturday night, Li reviewed Moutai’s history of growth, brand development and its journey to internationalization by recalling that it had won a gold award at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition which was held “at exactly the same place where we hold the gala tonight”.
San Francisco remains a city of opportunity and a shrine to generations of Moutai group employees, Li said, adding “Our ancestors rarely traveled outside of the local town but all of us know the liquor we made through hard word and artisan spirit is well received throughout the world,” Li said.
For 100 years, the group has been sustaining the original artisan spirit, adapting to changing environments and embracing technology innovation in order to maintain the legacy of the “Moutai miracle” and Moutai’s iconic ranking in China’s liquor industry, Li said.
Currently, Moutai products are sold in more than 60 countries and regions in Asia, Europe, the Americans, Oceania and Africa with its liquor exports reaching 614 tons by the end of August, representing a yearly growth of 12.9 percent.
The group reported a net profit of approximately $2.5 billion by the end of August, a 6.7 percent yearly rise over the same period last year, according to Yuan Renguo, chairman of the group, adding that increased exports and expansion into other businesses such as e-commerce, investment and financial leasing contributed to the rise.
Moutai is also known as the “liquor of diplomacy and friendship”, serving as the toaster of the normalization of China-US relationship in the 1970s through to the current building of a new type of major power relationship, said Li.
At the famous state dinner of 1972, then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai proposed a toast to visiting US president Richard Nixon with a glass of Moutai as the whole world looked on.
“When I paid a visit to former US president Jimmy Carter and presented him four bottles of Moutai,” Li recalled, “Carter said he knew the liquor and called it well-known.”
In June, 2013, visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping drank Moutai with his US counterpart President Barack Obama at Sunnylands.
As the national liquor of China, “Moutai has played a big part in China’s international relations and a significant role in celebrating major festive events and moving forward friendship between China and other countries,” said Li.
Strolling around the exhibit booths check the lineup of Moutai products, Mayor Lee said, “Moutai is associated with many important celebrations, celebrations of new year, celebration of birthdays, celebrations for meaningful events.”
Ed Lee (center), mayor of San Francisco, sips Moutai liquor with Li Baofang (right), general manager of China Kweichow Moutai Group, on Saturday at the group’s 1st anniversary celebration for its Moutai Day, which was announced by Lee at the group’s San Francisco stop during its overseas centennial celebrations last year.