The 2020 export volumes of wine, at 319.2-million litres, echo those of a challenging 2019, despite a five-week-long ban on exports and huge challenges at the Cape Town Port terminal owing to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
This, according to local wine export council Wines of South Africa (WoSA), follows on from a good 2020 harvest and vineyard recovery from the drought experienced in South Africa’s winegrowing regions from 2015 to 2018, noted WoSA in a press release which was released in January.
Despite this, the overall value of the country’s exports increased by 7.7% to R9.1-billion – with packaged wine export value recording 8.3% growth. Other countries which showed good growth in value include the UK (28%), the Netherlands (19%), the US (12%) and Sweden (17%).
Additionally, bulk wine has also seen positive trading, with value increasing by 5% to R1.9-billion and volume increasing by 3.7% to 181.5-million litres of wine. The UK saw value growth of 13% while Denmark and Finland grew by 27% and 29% respectively. Meanwhile, the US and Canada saw growth at 338% and 84%.
Despite a drop in volume at lower price points, WoSA enthuses that it is heartening to see continued growth in the premium segment with wines over the R40/ℓ price point growing steadily in value and volume. While still a relatively small volume segment for South Africa, the super-premium segment showed growth of 37% in volume. This growth in the higher tiers, the export council believes, highlights the work that WoSA has been doing to promote South Africa’s quality wines at higher price points.
Further, South Africa’s two distinctive varieties saw good growth in terms of export values at 13% for Chenin Blanc and 12% for Pinotage, with the former also being the largest single export variety with a total export volume of 48.9-million litres.
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.
“2020 will probably go down in history as one of the most challenging years for the industry, despite this however, we have learnt to adapt and have explored creative ways of engaging with our partners,” WoSA CEO Siobhan Thompson comments.
While the future remains unclear for the South African wine industry, WoSA holds onto the resilience experienced in the past. The export council’s market managers will continue to explore options for the promotion of South African wine in its key markets, with the focus on creating awareness around quality and therein growing the image of local wines.
Moreover, WoSA remains hopeful at the prospect of seeing some face-to-face in- market activity later on in the year, if the situation stabilises and the risk is significantly reduced for all parties.
WoSA remains 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 South Africa once more.