SA's wine export volumes rise 22% in 2021 despite booze bans, supply chain issues

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South Africa managed to grow wine export volumes by 22% in 2021, according to WoSA.
South Africa managed to grow wine export volumes by 22% in 2021, according to WoSA.
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  • South Africa's wine industry was hit by a series of alcohol bans and supply chain issues in 2021.
  • However, total export volumes managed to grow 22%, with the UK being the biggest market.
  • The value of exports also rose, by 12.1%, partly due to global shortages which boosted prices.

Despite a series of alcohol sales bans and supply chain challenges, South Africa's wine industry still managed to grow its export volumes.

Not-for-profit industry organisation Wines of South Africa (WoSA) on Wednesday released export report for 2021. The data covers January to October 2021. WoSA promotes South African wine in key export markets.

Total export volumes grew by 22% to 388.1 million litres. The value of wine increased 12.1%, to R10.2 billion. Notably in 2018, export volumes of 420 million litres only fetched R9.1 billion.

In 2019, export volumes fell to 320 million litres due to the impact of drought. In 2020 volumes dropped slightly to 319 million litres as the industry battled the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on restaurant and holiday trade, Fin24 previously reported.

Maryna Calow, communications manager at WoSA, said that the global shortage of wine was one of the factors that helped bolster prices. "Importers have also been supportive of the plight of our industry which was a major focus as we were impacted heavily in terms of local wine sales due to the various bans imposed by our government," said Calow.

The UK was South Africa's biggest market for wine exports - both in terms of volume (92.5 million litres) and value (R2.5 billion). Packaged wine export volumes in particular rose by 10% while the value of packaged wine exports to the UK rose by a quarter. This growth was mainly seen in the independent and specialist wine sector, and at high-end multiple grocers, WoSA noted in a statement.

"The UK market has been very supportive of South Africa's wine industry during one of the toughest times it has ever faced and this can be seen in the growth of our exports," the statement read.

Germany was the second-largest export market. Its volumes remained consistent with the previous year at 65.2 million litres, but the value declined by a percent to R1.2 billion. Along with Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden also remained largely stable. This is a positive, given the harsh lockdown measures in these countries which had a direct impact on trading conditions, WoSA said.

Meanwhile China's trade war with Australia has also opened up opportunities for South Africa to export both packaged and bulk wine to that market. The volume of exports to China more than doubled to 13.8 million litres. The value of these exports grew 59% to R458 million.

Both Canada and the US also reflected a more than double increases in volume exports, mostly from bulk exports. The value of exports to the US climbed 39% to R887 million. While the value of exports to Canada climbed 31% to R657 million.

"African markets have also shown excellent recovery in 2021, with export volumes exceeding pre-Covid levels. Markets driving this growth are Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Further market insights show that this will continue in the future as the market expands."

Packaged wine exports were impacted by packaging supply issues - mainly due to a shortage of glass and other packaging materials, container shortages and localised issues at ports, said Calow. But packaged exports still managed to grow 6.7% to 145.6 million litres in terms of volume and by 9.2% to R7.8 billion in terms of value.

Bulk wine still accounts for the biggest share of SA wine exports by volume, up by over a third (33.6%) to 242.6 million litres. Its value increased nearly a quarter (23.1%) to R2.4 billion.

White wines were most popular, driven by demand for Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, WoSA said. 

Commenting on the export data, WoSA CEO Siobhan Thompson said that it shows key markets see South Africa as a producer of "consistently high quality wine". 

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