In a 'historic' move a new trade body has been formed to look after the interests of the South African drinks industry.

Wine and brandy producers have come together to form the South African Wine and Brandy Company (SAWBC). The decision has been called the most important in the history of South African wine since the formation of the Co-operative Wine Growers Association (KWV) in 1918.

Groups will be formed within the SAWBC to represent workers, grape growers, wineries and wholesale merchants. All sectors, including producers of brandy and grape juice concentrate, are invited to join and have until the end of April to register.

A representative from each industry group will be appointed to the board before the end of May, when the groups meet for the first time. The post of chief executive is being advertised and the appointment will be made by August 2002.

The SAWBC will combine the functions of existing organisations such as Wines of South Africa, the SA Brandy Foundation, Winetech and South African Wine Information Systems.

‘For the first time, we will have a widely representative, unified force which will integrate resources and act effectively on behalf of the entire grape-based liquor industry,’ said Jan Scannell, chairperson of the SAWBC pilot committee and managing director of Distell, South Africa’s largest wine and spirit company.

The South African government and industry workers were fully consulted and involved in the creation of the SAWBC and are giving it their full support.

Contacts: Theo Pegel +27 (0)21 807 3247; Riaan Kruger +27 (0)21 887 0117; Nosey Pieterse +27 (0)21 807 3720

Written by Josie McLaughlin16 April 2002