According to The Australian Financial Review today, Treasury Wine Estates chief executive Mike Clarke has 24 million Japanese baseball fans in his sights in the next leg of his strategy to accelerate sales growth in Asia for the maker of Penfolds and Wolf Blass.
The company has signed a sponsorship deal with Japan's top baseball league, the Nippon Professional Baseball Organisation, for the Wolf Blass wine brand to be the wine supplier to the league that has 12 teams including the Tokyo Swallows and the Hanshin Tigers. Baseball is Japan's most popular spectator sport.
The baseball sponsorship follows a similar deal struck in December for China, where Treasury signed a big sponsorship deal for Wolf Blass with the China National Basketball Association, an arm of the United States NBA basketball league. There are 300 million basketball fans in China.
The Asian division was the standout performer for Treasury Wines in the first half of 2015-16, with profits more than doubling to $46.5 million as the company outperformed market forecasts.
During 2015, 24 million fans attended NPB baseball matches and there are an estimated 70 million people who follow the Japanese baseball league.
Official figures from industry body Wine Australia show that in calendar 2015 total wine exports from Australia to Japan climbed by 12 per cent to $46 million at a time when the Japanese economy has been stagnating, prompting unusual measures from the Japanese central bank of opting for negative interest rates. This compares with $370 million of wine sold into China, which represented a 66 per cent rise. Total wine exports rose 14 per cent to $2.1 billion.
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