Uphill battle to get more SA wines to export market in lockdown: Wosa

20 July 2020 - 06:06 By ERNEST MABUZA
Wines of SA (Wosa) says the ban on international travel has made it difficult to get new SA wines to overseas markets.
Wines of SA (Wosa) says the ban on international travel has made it difficult to get new SA wines to overseas markets.
Image: 123RF/Nikkiphoto

The ban on the sale of wines locally has pushed more companies to seek to sell their wines overseas, but the continuing ban on overseas travel has made it more difficult to introduce more SA wines to overseas markets.

Wines of SA (Wosa), an organisation that promotes the export of SA wines in key international markets, said Covid-19 restrictions on travel had made it difficult for more SA products to reach overseas markets.

“It is great that we can still export. We would like to export more. There are producers who have got export channels already. They just need to fulfil those orders.

“There are producers who might export 10% of their wine. To get new exports at this time is difficult. We attend lots and lots of trade events and they have been cancelled as a result of Covid-19,” Wosa spokesperson Maryna Calow said.

She said it was very difficult for wine companies trying to identify new exports overseas while they are in SA.

“These relationships take a lot of time to build. That is the problem. You need to physically get the product to the new client,” Calow said.

Calow said the SA wine industry normally exported 50% of its wine and the other 50% was sold locally.

“Those people who export 70% to 80% of their wine are fine.”

Calow said the lockdown has changed the way local producers try to reach new markets

“One can send samples and have a Zoom conversation with a buyer, say in Germany, and talk them through the product. But we know that a face-to-face, in-person, meeting is better for building a relationship. It is tricky.”

Pertunia Setumo, agricultural economist at FNB Agri-Business, said the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will exert further pressure on small-scale farmers who were already struggling with, among other issues, rising input costs and limited market access.

“Due to restrictions on local sales of alcoholic beverages, cashflows for small-scale wine and spirit producers as well as beer brewers will take a knock.

“In addition, the restrictions on travelling and gatherings limit extra incomes from social events such as beer festivals, wine tasting events and agritourism,” Setumo said.