South Africa’s wine exports register 7.7% growth in earnings despite COVID-19 disruptions

SOUTH AFRICA – Wine exports from South Africa reached 319.2 million litres in 2020 earning the country R9.1 billion (US$613.9m), a remarkable rise of 7.7% in value when put in consideration the COVID-19 travel restrictions and the five weeks ban on sale and transportation of all alcohol products in the country.

According to a report by trade group, Wines of South Africa (WoSA), the rise comes on the back of good weather conditions which led to vineyards bouncing back from the crippling drought experienced in the country from 2015 to 2018.

Other than improved harvest, the rise in exports was driven by the wine sector drawing a lot of awareness to the plight of the South African wine industry and garnered incredible support from the trade, importers and consumers across the globe.

“The year 2020 will probably go down in history books as one of the most challenging years for the industry, however despite this, we have learnt to adapt and have explored creative ways of engaging with our partners,” said WoSA chief executive Siobhan Thompson.

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The sector utilized online platforms and social media campaigns to reach their customers.

“We remain positive that the wine industry will return to its usual strength in due course and shine its light for our beautiful country once more.”

WoSA chief executive – Siobhan Thompson

South Africa’s biggest wine market in 2020 remained to be the UK with a 23 percent leap to R2.1bn (US$141.6m) and Germany up 4 percent to R1.28bn (US$86.3m).

Exports into the Netherlands surged 17 percent to R891 million (US$60.1m), 20 percent to the US at R637m (US$42.9m) and 12 percent to Sweden at R553m (US$35.95m).

In terms of categories, packaged wine exports recorded an 8.3 percent increase to R7.2bn (US$485m) on higher sales while bulk wine exports increased 5 percent to R1.9bn (US$128.1m) and volume increased 3.7 percent to 181 million litres.

However, a drop in volume was registered in the lower price points wines with the premium segment of over R40 per litre price point reportedly to have grown steadily in value and volume.

“While still a relatively small volume segment for South Africa, the super-premium segment showed growth of 37 percent in volume. This growth in the higher tiers highlights the work that WoSA has been doing to promote our quality wines at higher price points,” said Thompson.

South Africa’s two distinctive varieties saw good growth in terms of export values at 13% for Chenin Blanc and 12% for Pinotage, the former also being South Africa’s largest single export variety with a total export volume of 48.9-million litre.

The Cap Classique category continues to see strong growth at 17% and is proving to be a strong category in terms of growing value and quality recognition in overseas markets.

According to Thompson the future of the wine industry is uncertain for the wine industry. “We remain positive that the wine industry, along with its unrivalled wine tourism offering, will return to its usual strength in due course and shine its light for our beautiful country once more,” she added.

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