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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Tuesday, 20 July 2010 13:26

Waka Waka Eh Eh for S. Africa

South Africa hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup successfully might have silenced many of its critics and many are busy calculating the cost-benefit post analysis, but the wine industry claims to have derived a tangible benefit with rising exports making one wish if Indian wine industry could also be a beneficiary of the Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi in October this year.

Photo By:: Adil Arora

A vineyard in the Capeland

According to Wines of South Africa, the wine export promotion body, there has been a marked increase in sales volumes among the countries with a high level of interest in soccerdespite the continued strength of the rand in a world not out of recession. According to Su Birch, CEO of WOSA, “For the first six months this year, the volumes of bottled wine exported to Germany rose by 50% while US saw an increase of 32% for the same period. Canada, Finland and Belgium all showed double-digit volume growth. So did Ireland which has been hard hit by the downturn.”

“Other exciting developments have been a 33% growth to Japan and a more than doubling of sales to both the UAE and China, although with a smaller base. Even to competitor countries such as France, New Zealand and Australia, sales were up.”

Distell’s Nederburg, South Africa’s only wine brand licensed to carry the official FIFA logo and which produced a trio of wines to mark South Africa’s hosting of the games, also reported strong sales growth in many of the countries with fervent football fans. 

The impact of the games has been reportedly felt in the domestic market as well. Vinimark, the country’s largest independent specialty wine wholesaler reported double-digit growth in sales directed to the local hospitality sector, when compared with the same period a year ago. Groot (pronounced khroot) Constantia’s sales rose by 10% in June this year, compared with June 2009, and the trend for July looks even better for the historic estate.

Warwick Estate in Stellenbosch experienced a 58% increase in domestic sales in June as compared to the same period last year. Partner Mike Ratcliffe said last year exports accounted for 60% of sales during June and July but this year domestic market has achieved the same result with the strong influx of soccer-related visitors to the Cape.

The tournament has brought many intangible benefits, such as the raised visibility for South Africa and its wines and the likely increase in tourism to the Cape that would in all probability translate into future growth in wine exports. 

“The growing awareness of the country is seeding opportunities for the local wine industry in countries such as Japan, China, Korea, where knowledge of South Africa as a wine-producing country is still in its infancy. We are starting to see the impact already,” says Michaela Stander, WOSA marketing manager whose assignment includes Asia too.

“Cape Town Tourism has projected that with some three billion people having watched the televised broadcast of the games, if just 0.5% of those spectators were to visit Cape Town over the next five years, the city’s current international annual visitor traffic would grow from the present1.8 million to 4.8 million people.  This would obviously have favourable repercussions for the wine and hospitality industries.”

Birch confirmed that WOSA was continuing to capitalize on the raised international awareness of South Africa. “The cacophony of the vuvuzelas may be over but we are still training wine waiters to support the local hospitality industry until the end of this year.” WOSA had initiated the commendable project Fundi wherein the profits from the wine of the same name were infused to train waiters for the local industry.

In India, there may not have been significant impact of South African wines but Aspri Wines and Spirits, distributors of Nederburg wine and Amarula Liqueur which were the official beverages at the Cup seems to have capitalized by organising several events in various hotels and restaurants like Taj and Hyatt Regency in Delhi and Mumbai. ‘We are very satisfied by the response. Our sales showed a growth of 10% for the period besides the obvious branding benefits,’ confirms Sumedh Mandla, CEO of the wines division of Aspri. Another Mumbai-based importer, specialising in the import of South African wines, The Wine Rack which has been rather low key in the market, could not be reached despite several attempts.

There do not seem to be any similar visible signs or efforts for the promotion of Indian wines during the Commonwealth Games. Though the Delhi government did relent-rather late, and has allowed supermarkets to sell wines under certain conditions and has granted cheaper licenses to stand-alone restaurants selling only wine and beer, no organised promotional initiative seems to be in the pipeline. 

With many infra-structural projects relating to the Games behind schedule, the government is hardly expected to look into this area and it is for the industry to get together and be pro-active. Though there is no official body to promote export of Indian wines, the Indian Grape Processing Board which is trying to plan a wine festival during the period if the Excise Lords condescend, must take a pro-active role and see to it that Indian wines get the due boost during the games.

The attendance at the games and the international TV viewership would offer a golden opportunity which seems likely to slip out of hands unless there is a concerted action NOW, so that the wine industry may also sing together-

India India Yeh Yeh!!


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