Shoprite and Checkers buy 1.5 million litres of wine

Johannesburg – South Africa’s embattled wine industry has received a shot in the arm from retail giants Shoprite and Checkers.

The two brands purchased more than 1.5-million litres of wine from South African farms since the start of lockdown to help ease the burden brought on by Covid-19.

The industry has been battered by global import and export restrictions, a struggling local economy, and multiple Covid-19-induced liquor bans have left many South African wine farms sitting on massive wine volumes.

Domestic wine sales fell by 20% in 2020, down to 290-million litres, from 363-million litres in 2019, industry figures show.

With the knock-on impact still being felt. South African wine trade body Vinpro says it could ultimately lead to 27 000 job losses across the industry, 10% of the total 265 000.

South Africa’s wine industry is centred in the Western Cape province, to the north and east of Cape Town. Patti Quinton from Shoprite said the wine will be sold under a new exclusive label, called Elephant’s Cousin, as well as used for its wide range of other private label wine ranges.

“The move will help wine farms move surplus stock more rapidly – without a route to market, the knock-on effect of this unsold excess will be devastating for the industry.”

South Africa is the ninth-biggest wine producer in the world and produces about 4% of the global wine output.

The wine industry contributes more than R55-billion to the country’s gross domestic product and employs 269 069 people throughout the value-chain, of which 80 183 work on farms and cellars.

According to Vinpro, the 2021 wine harvest – including juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, wine for brandy and distilling wine – is expected to amount to 1 136.4 million litres at an average recovery of 778 litres per ton of grapes.

“We are delighted that harvest 2021 has proven to be somewhat of a silver lining for the SA wine industry, which will no doubt further bolster our international positioning,” says Siobhan Thompson, CEO of Wines of South Africa.

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