China just loves SA wines

Western Cape’s ex­port num­bers hit the right note

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PEOPLE - JAN CRONJE

SOUTH AFRICAN wine ex­ports to China are set to al­most dou­ble this year, from 11 mil­lion litres last year to about 20 mil­lion litres.

Al­most all this wine is grown in the Western Cape, bring­ing in hun­dreds of mil­lions rands for the prov­ince’s wine in­dus­try.

Eco­nomic Op­por­tu­ni­ties MEC Alan Winde, who is in China as part of a provin­cial trade mis­sion, said while South Africa was a “rel­a­tively new player” in the Chi­nese wine mar­ket, ex­ports had flour­ished in re­cent years.

The Chi­nese ap­petite for wine, he said, had grown in line with that coun­try’s rapid eco­nomic growth.

“More and more peo­ple in China are mov­ing into the mid­dle class and their palates are chang­ing.”

Winde, Premier He­len Zille, and mem­bers of Wes­gro – the prov­ince’s In­vest­ment and Trade Pro­mo­tion Agency – are vis­it­ing the coun­try with the world’s sec­ond big­gest econ­omy as part of a provin­cial del­e­ga­tion to bol­ster trade ties.

On Wed­nes­day Winde and Zille at­tended the Food Ho­tel China ex­hi­bi­tion and ProWine China trade shows at the Shang­hai New In­ter­na­tional Expo Cen­tre to pro­mote South African prod­ucts.

Thirty-eight food and wine com­pa­nies from the prov­ince ex­hib­ited.

In her open­ing ad­dress Zille said South African wines were “tak­ing China by storm”, and also plugged rooi­bos tea, which has for years been try­ing to gain a toe­hold in the Chi­nese mar­ket.

“No tea col­lec­tion is com­plete with­out South Africa’s rooi­bos tea,” said Zille, adding that “all of our prod­ucts are pro­duced to the high­est safety stan­dards”.

Speak­ing to Week­end Ar­gus from Shang­hai on Thurs­day, Winde said while lo­cal wine ex­ports to China had grown strongly, vol­umes were still dwarfed by those of coun­tries like France, Italy and Aus­tralia.

Where South Africa ex­ported 11 mil­lion litres last year, the equiv­a­lent of 13.75 mil­lion bot­tles, France ex­ported over 10 times as much.

The prov­ince’s largest ex­ports mar­kets for wine, which earned the Western Cape al­most R8 bil­lion in 2013, were the UK, Ger­many and the Nether­lands.

But Winde said the wine in­dus­try was look­ing to China be­cause the prov­ince’s tra­di­tional mar­kets had been “rel­a­tively flat” in re­cent years.

China, by con­trast, still had a mas­sive po­ten­tial for growth.

While not tra­di­tion­ally a wine-drink­ing coun­try, China (in­clud­ing Hong Kong) over­took France to be­come the largest red wine- con­sum­ing na­tion in the world in 2012, ac­cord­ing to a mar­ket study by VIN­EXPO. Chi­nese red wine consumption rose by 175 per­cent be­tween 2008 and 2013, to al­most two bil­lion bot­tles.

Winde said the Western Cape was well placed to take ad­van­tage of th­ese devel­op­ments.

South Africa is the sev­enth largest pro­ducer of wine grapes in the world, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­isa- tion of Vine and Wine, al­most all of it grown in the Western Cape. Of ev­ery 100 bot­tles the coun­try ex­ports, 98 are from the prov­ince’s wine- grow­ing re­gions.

Af­ter Shang­hai, the del­e­ga­tion moved to the Chi­nese cap­i­tal of Beijing, where they met of­fi­cials from Air China.

The na­tional car­rier be­gan a 14- hour, non- stop ser­vice be­tween Beijing and Joburg on Oc­to­ber 29, offering three flights a week.

Winde said the prov­ince would dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity of in­sti­tut­ing direct flights to Cape Town.


THE FU­TURE: A sign at Baby­lon­storen wine farm in Fran­schhoek. Baby­lon­storen ex­ports wines to China.

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