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South African wine exports hit record in 2013

Exports of South African wine hit a new record volume in 2013 thanks to rising consumer interest in the UK, Germany and US.

South Africa’s wineries exported 525.7m litres last year, beating the previous high achieved in 2012 by 26%, show official figures released by trade body Wines of South Africa (WoSA).

Stronger orders from existing key markets the UK and Germany drove the increase, but there was also evidence of South African producers gaining a foothold in the world’s largest wine market, the US, with export volumes there up by 37% in 2013.

WoSA’s new chief executive, Siobhan Thompson, said the US growth was significant and the industry is ‘confident of achieving long-term growth’ there.

The trade body believes South African wine has generally filled a gap left by relatively small 2012 harvests in parts of Europe, and notably France.

Tighter supply from wine regions beyond Europe has also helped South Africa’s producers. Steve Lewis, chief executive of UK retailer Majestic Wine, said New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc supplies have come under pressure.

‘We sell a lot of very good entry point Sauvignon Blanc produced in New Zealand. [But], as prices have moved up, South Africa has come in at that £5.99 price point.’ Majestic has seen double-digit percentage sales rises on South African wine in the last few months, Lewis said.

Some observers have also partly attributed South Africa’s success to a weak South African rand currency, which has helped the nation’s wines to compete on price.

‘The relative weakness of the rand certainly offers growth opportunities for wine exporters,’ said a report on the South African wine sector by PricewaterhouseCoopers in September last year.

A WoSA spokesperson said that export value figures were unavailable.

Written by Chris Mercer

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