Good News: South Africa wine exports go-ahead during lockdown

The South African wine industry has been given authorization to export wines during the country’s current lockdown.

Following intense lobbying of the South Africa government by an Industry Exporters Task Team, the Minister of Transport stated in a release yesterday, April 7: “During the lockdown period, the transportation of the wines and any other fresh produce products at the seaports and international Airports Designated as Port of Entry for export is allowed.”

“Agricultural Cargo is allowed to be transported to seaports and International Airports Designated as Ports of Entry and exported to the relevant destination.”

The move is important for South Africa’s wine producers and fruit farmers as much of their produce is exported, and 50% of all wine produced is exported.

Rico Basson of Vinpro, which represents 3,500 members of the South African wine industry, tweeted, “We are very grateful for the dispensation to allow the exports of South African Wine”.

A statement from The Exporters Task Team also praised the decision: “Government and all the respective role-players [have shown] an understanding for the industry’s challenges through this concession, as nearly half of South Africa’s wine production is exported and a restriction on exports would have a severe effect on wine-related businesses, but most importantly the livelihood of close to 300,000 people employed by the wine industry value-chain.”

The Task Team emphasized that it recognized “the severity” of the Covid-19 pandemic, asking all businesses and people to “strictly adhere to the regulations” set out by government to ensure the safety of all employees during the lockdown.

Describing the development as “very good news for the industry”, Wines of South Africa‘s (WoSA) UK market manager Jo Wehring clarified that, “this exemption only relates to finished product that is ready for shipping in either bulk or packaged format”, adding it is “a massive step in the right direction and will bring much relief”.

WoSA recently announced that the 2020 vintage would deliver ‘exceptional wines’, after a last minute concession from government allowed harvesting to take place.

Japan Overtakes Germany in Champagne Export Market

Japan has overtaken Germany in export volumes of champagne for the first time in history, according to recent data provided by Comité Champagne.

Japan imported 12.8m bottles between 2016-17, which is a 21.3% increase on the previous year, leapfrogging them above Germany into third place.

“Over the past 20 years, Japan has produced 3,000 sommeliers and the country has a real passion for champagne,” said Vincent Perrin, deputy direct general, Comité Champagne.

“Japan has a strong distribution network and benefited from the free trade agreement announced with the EU.”

The US remains the number one for exports in terms of value, with more than half a billion Euros recorded in 2017, however the UK imported almost 28m bottles over the same period, a global high despite recording an 11% decrease in volumes.

Perrin adds: “There is an uncertainty with the UK due to the effects of Brexit, however the French economy is in a good place so we’re expecting big things for 2018, specifically in the on-trade.”

China grew 76.7% in terms of volume in 2017, the largest increase globally and the country is now ranked 15th in the world.

“These are promising signs from China, but I think they need educating on wines that aren’t Bordeaux reds before they become truly influential,” said Perrin.

French Wine and Champagne Exports to U.S. Grew Significantly in 2010

When it comes to the preferences of American wine drinkers, the proof is in the wine glass: from 2009 to 2010, total volume of French wine exports to the U.S. went up +6.4% to 10.5 million cases and wine value increased by +15.6%, with sparkling wines leading the pack. Champagne, in particular, experienced explosive growth with volume increasing by +51.3% and value by +58.6%. The numbers illustrate that on- and off-premise consumers are spending more per bottle on French wines than they did in 2009. While the economy continues to recover, American wine drinkers have shown that because of the quality, tradition, diversity and value that French wines offer, they are confident to put their money where their wine glasses are, whether it’s for a celebration or everyday enjoyment.

Champagne’s top performance indicates that consumers no longer only look to sparkling wine to celebrate a special occasion, but are now purchasing it on a more regular basis due to Champagne’s high quality, versatility with food and the craftsmanship of its producers. Other sparkling wines from outside of the Champagne region grew +7.3% in volume and +18% in value. As a whole, the total sparkling wine category went up +32.5% in volume and +54.3% in value, attesting to the fact that, in 2010, consumers were trading up across the board in this category.

In the still wine category, AOP (previously known as AOC) wine exports were up overall with the Loire Valley leading the way with an increase of 40% in volume and 34.7% in value; the Languedoc made huge strides in 2010, increasing by 29.4% in volume and 39.4% in value; and both Burgundy’s and the Côtes du Rhône’s value percentages increased, exceeding their volume, showing that consumers are keen to spend more money per bottle on wines from these particular AOP regions.

IGP wines, or Vins de Pays, experienced a decline in volume of -15%, but a +10% increase in value which indicates that while consumers are buying fewer wines from this category, the wines they are purchasing cost more per bottle. Wines with no geographical denomination, previously known as Vins de Table, have continued to decline with a loss of -6% in volume and -0.11% in value, proving that, in general, Americans are now preferring wines from the other two categories.