South African wines are capturing more of world taste

The South African wine industry exports registered 26% growth in 2013 in a development led by strong performance in traditional European markets and healthy growth in newer markets like the US.

South African wine export volumes reached 525,7 million litres in 2013 topping a high recorded in 2012, according to a statement released by the Wines of South Africa (WOSA) yesterday. The South African wine making industry is considered a strategic industry with great potential to benefit economic development and job creation. It is up against European giants, France, Italy and Spain and emerging market supremos like Argentina, Australia and Chile.

The WOSA statement shows white wine sales rose by about 18% and reds by 22% in 2013. Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinotage and Merlot had seen the biggest increase in volumes exported.

It seems a couple of factors conspired in favour of South Africa. These include poor European harvest which is listed by WOSA. A significantly weaker rand must be a factor but WOSA did not list it in its statement.

The WOSA statement showed strong year-on-year growth occurred in established and newer markets. The statement said sales to the UK, still the biggest export destination accounting for just over one-fifth of total volumes exported last year, rose 21% to 111,2 million litres. Volumes to Germany, where South Africa is the biggest New World supplier, increased by 24% to 96,5 million litres, while exports to Russia were up 18% to 37,3 million litres.

The new CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), Siobhan Thompson, attributed the performance to a bumper harvest in 2013. This, said Thompson, had allowed South Africa to fill the gap created by the poor European harvest, as well as to the penetration of new markets.

“It is encouraging that strong gains were achieved in the UK and Germany, our two biggest markets, where packaged wines in particular showed very healthy growth. Packaged wines to the UK were up 31% and to Germany by 17%. At the same time, exports also grew across an increasingly broad range of other markets.”

She said the substantial growth in Russian sales was partly the result of the shortfall in the European harvest, where in some cases yields were the lowest in 40 years. “This was also the reason South African sales to wine-producing countries such as France, Italy and Spain increased so dramatically. However, we see as significant, the impressive growth in high potential markets such as the US, where we are confident of achieving long-term growth. ”

Thompson said exports to the US, a market of fast-growing importance to the country, increased by 37%. This was boosted by improved distribution and ongoing positive media exposure.

“South Africa is increasingly perceived as the source of interesting, original and well-made wines, able to appeal to Americans eager to expand their repertoire,” said Thompson. This is a very good positioning from which to build our base, particularly as we target Millennials, who are especially eager to encounter new taste experiences.”

The WOSA statement rcorded strong gain in Denmark where packaged sales were up by 21%.

South African wines said WOSA were also making good inroads in many of Africa’s major economies as well as in Japan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.


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