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Posted: Tuesday, February 23 2010. 15:22

South Africa Crosses French Wine Sales in UK

France continues to be the global benchmark not only in production but also in marketing, with South Africans  upbeat  on surpassing the wine export to UK off-trade for the first time, making it the fourth largest selling wine country there.

The latest figures from Nielsen show that South African wine sales in retail outlets grew 20% by volume to 12.27 million cases,  compared to France’s decline of 12% over the same period to 12.266 million cases. Furthermore, with the FIFA World Cup 2010 the hosts expect to increase the gap.

The world cup tournament has been timely for South African wines, which have seen two years of strong growth in the UK, with its market share growing from 10.4% at the end of 2008 to 12.3% by the end of last year.

Mason also said that the diversity of South African wines was the key to its performance, rather than any one particular style of wine. "The sheer variety of wines from South Africa is our great strength, along with solid brand positions and the quality to value ratio ramping up over the past few years," she said.

Although the South African wine industry is over 350 years old, it has been in its recent history that exports have seen significant growth. In 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected president and the country became a peaceful democracy, the industry exported around 50million liters of wine, globally; by the close of 2009 exports had increased eightfold, reaching almost 400million liters.

Ms. Jo Mason, UK market manager, Wines of South Africa, said: “This is a momentous occasion for the South African wine industry, which is relatively young in terms of the global export market. In 1994 our producers wouldn’t have dreamt of selling more wine to the UK than France, but now the wine landscape has changed completely. UK consumers no longer default to European wine and the quality of wine from South Africa is up there with the best in the world. This achievement has coincided with a year where South Africa is thrust into the spotlight, as host nation for the FIFA World Cup, which should ensure continued success for our wines, as visitors flock to the Cape or crack open a bottle while watching the game,”

In sharp contrast, no words of wisdom, inspiration or any thoughts on special planning have been uttered by any politician or the wine industry to promote wine during the Commonwealth games during October 2010. India is getting ready to miss a golden opportunity to showcase its wines as well as failing to offer the visitors the drink that is part of the food for a majority of the potential visitors.

One can only hope that the new wine policies and the fiscal planning for the year to be announced from April this year, some attention will be paid to the healthy  beverage. There cannot be much incentives in the budget to be announced at the month-end but wine policy ought to be more liberal and tourism friendly, one hopes.

       

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