South Africa’s 2020 wine exports reach 319-million litres despite market challenges

20th January 2021

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer


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South Africa’s wine export volumes of 2020, which amount to 319.2-million litres, echo that of a challenging 2019, despite a five-week-long ban on exports and challenges at the Cape Town Port terminal owing to Covid-19.

This follows on from a good 2020 harvest and vineyard recovery following the drought experienced in the South African winegrowing regions from 2015 through to 2018.

The overall value of the country’s wine exports increased by 7.7% to R9.1-billion, of which packaged wine exports' value grew by 8.3%. Countries which showed good growth in value include the UK (28%), the Netherlands (19%), the US (12%) and Sweden (17%).

Bulk wine has also seen positive trading with value increasing 5% to R1.9-billion and volume increasing by 3.7% to 181.5-million litres. The UK saw value growth of 13%, exports to Denmark and Finland grew by an impressive 27% and 29% respectively, while the US and Canada saw growth at 338% and 84%.

Nonprofit organisation Wines of South Africa (WoSA) said in a statement on January 20 that “it is heartening to see continued growth in the premium segment with wines over the R40 a litre price point growing steadily in value and volume”.

While this is still a relatively small volume segment for South Africa, the super-premium segment showed growth of 37% in volume.

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. 

WoSA CEO Siobhan Thompson says, “2020 will probably go down in [the] history books as one of the most challenging years for the industry”; however despite this, she is encouraged by the industry having learnt to adapt and explore creative ways of engaging with its partners.

Through extensive online and social media campaigns, “insider sessions” hosted virtually, as well as the advent of the Cape Export Network platform alongside partners at Wesgro and the externally run #SaveSAWine, WoSA is heartened by the fact that it “managed to draw a lot of awareness to the plight of the South African wine industry and garnered incredible support from traders, importers and consumers across the globe”.

“While we do not know what the future holds for the South African wine industry, we hold onto the resilience that we have seen in the past. Our Market Managers will continue to explore options for the promotion of South African wine in our key markets with the focus on creating awareness around quality and therein growing the image of our wines,” Thompson commented, noting that the organisation “remains hopeful to see some face-to-face in-market activity later on in the year if the situation stabilizes and the risk is significantly reduced for all parties”.

“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.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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