South Africa exported a record-breaking 417m litres of wine last year – but bulk shipments continued to account for more than half of volumes.
Groot Constantia Estate
The figures for 2012 showed a 17% increase over 2011 and were 10m litres above the previous record year, 2008, said Wines of South Africa (WoSA).
Favourable exchange rates, a global wine shortage and small harvests in Europe, Latin America and Australia and New Zealand were the main factors behind the growth.
However, WoSA CEO Su Birch said bulk wines accounted for 59% of 2012 volumes, something which she said was part of a ‘growing global trend’.
Birch added, ‘Obviously we would prefer the accent to be on packaged wines in terms of job retention in the packaging industry and also to maintain sustainable profit margins for producers.’
In August last year, the government threatened a tit-for-tat trade war with the UK, suggesting Scotch whisky should be imported in bulk and packaged in South Africa.
Growth in packaged exports to North America, Japan, China and other African nations was encouraging, Birch said.
Meanwhile, South Africa is expecting its third biggest wine grape harvest ever in 2013, with SAWIS (South Africa Wine Industry & Information Systems) estimating the crop at just under 1.4m tons.
‘This is assuming that good weather conditions continue, there is a speedy and peaceful resolution to the farmworker strikes and harvests come in on time,’ said Birch.
WoSA told Decanter.com last week that ongoing farmworker strikes did not involve wine workers so far, but this could change once seasonal workers were taken on for the harvest in a month or so.
Written by Richard Woodard