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Chinese liquor prices rise ahead of holiday season

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GUIYANG, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- China's top liquor brand has increased the prices of its beverages ahead of a major public holiday, raising concerns about a possible industry-wide price hike.

Kweichow Maotai Group, based in southwest China's Guizhou Province, on Tuesday said it will raise the price of Maotai liquor by 20 to 30 percent starting from September.

After the price hike, Maotai's popular 53-percent liquor is likely to cost up to 1,800 yuan (283 U.S. dollars) for a one-liter bottle, market analysts said.

Peng Hong, secretary of the Guangdong provincial alcohol industry association, said winter is usually the peak season for liquor sales.

The price hike by Maotai is likely to spread to other top brands, making high-quality liquor even more unaffordable for ordinary wage earners.

China will celebrate its Mid-Autumn Festival and National Holiday from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7. Liquor is an important part of the holiday banquets most families hold during the holidays.

Peng said many wholesalers have complained that liquor sales declined by 10 to 20 percent in the first half due to narrow profit margins. Competition in the sector might push small liquor brands out of the market and bring prices back to reasonable levels, he said.

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