China just loves SA wines
Western Cape’s export numbers hit the right note
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.