south african wine

South African Wine Rebounds

17 February, 2022

Strong demand from the UK, the US and China helped South African wine exports increase by 12.1% in value to R10.2bn in 2021.

Volume sales were up 22% for the year to 338.1 million litres, with bulk exports significantly outstripping packaged wine exports. 

The UK remains South Africa’s largest export market. Volume sales to the UK increased 12% to 92.5 million litres, while value sales were up 20% to R2.5bn. 

Germany was the second largest export market, with volumes at compared to the previous year. Shipments to the US increased 134% by volume and 39% by value to reach R887m. 

The Netherlands was the fourth largest export market by value, despite a 10% dip, followed by other African countries, with exports increasing 50%. Canada and France were also strong. 

The fastest growth came from China, with exports increasing 189% by volume and 59% by value to R458 million. China is now South Africa’s eighth largest export market. 

In African markets export volumes have now exceeded pre-Covid levels. Markets driving this growth are Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The anticipated expansion of these relatively young wine-drinking nations indicates that growth will continue. 

The wine trade – and the wider South African alcoholic drinks industry – suffered a very challenging couple of years as the government imposed a series of domestic sales bans and export bans during the pandemic. 

Towards the end of 2021, South Africa finally ended all restrictions on alcohol sales. It means that bars and restaurants can now sell alcoholic drinks after 11pm. The government also lied a midnight to 4am curfew and allowed indoor gatherings of up to 1,000 people. 

There were four lengthy alcohol sales bans during the pandemic, and the trade feared that a fourth would be implemented. 

“It is good for our recovery efforts, as the alcohol industry has suffered almost five alcohol bans which amount to about 26 weeks of non-trading,” said National Liquor Traders Council spokesperson Lucky Ntimane. “So the announcement is a welcome relief, but people need to understand that this is also not a licence for non-compliance. It does not mean that Covid-19 is gone or disappeared.” 

Infection rates have decreased in South Africa, the country where the omicron variant was first discovered. 

A statement from president Cyril Ramaphosa said: “All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level. 

“While the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, there have been lower rates of hospitalisation than in previous waves. This means that the country has a spare capacity for admission of patients even for routine health services.” 

Popular trade show Cape Wine is set to take place in October, which could give the industry an added boost. It was initially scheduled for September 2021, but it had to be postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak.

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