South Africa

South Africa’s wine exports struggling 

South Africa’s wine exports fell by 17% in 2023 as logistic issues and other global factors have put pressure on the industry.

This is feedback from Wines of SA’s Maryna Calow, who said the lower exports were due to a combination of local and global factors.

Calow explained to BusinessDay TV that 2020 was a challenging year for South Africa’s wine and liquor industry, as lockdown regulations and liquor bans constrained the sector. 

“Recovery seemed to be happening quite well – we improved on our export statistics in the following years,” she said. “But in 2023, unfortunately, we saw a decline in our export numbers.”

She said many factors contributed to this decline. It includes the global economic downturn and geopolitical issues.

“However, I must note that the local situation at our Cape Town port does have an impact on a whole range of things,” she said. 

“And at the moment, the most important thing is that we are negating the reliability of importers in our key focus markets.”

Calow said industry officials are consistently engaging with Transnet and port officials to find workable ways for the industry to export their goods. 

She said many promises have been made regarding investment into infrastructure and the workforce at the port. “We remain hopeful that the situation at the port, at least, will change,” she said. 

“What we can’t be as sure about is, of course, the geopolitical and the geoeconomic situation that is playing itself out internationally.”

Despite the industry’s struggles over the past year, Calow said South Africa’s offering is second to none. 

“The quality of our wine is second to none, and that is not something we will scrimp on or change on,” she said. 

“So that is the most important thing, and I think this is what’s really keeping these relationships between importer and exporter really strong.”

Auditing firm PwC recently warned that South Africa’s freight rail and port deficiencies are set to continue, and businesses should brace for further supply-chain challenges this year.

“Aside from the impact of international conflict on local companies, South Africa is also facing domestic challenges set to cause continued disruption in supply chains in 2024, specifically those involving rail and port logistics,” PwC said.

Several South African companies in South Africa, notably those in the mining sector, have already sought alternatives to the state-owned Transnet. 

Exxaro Resources, for instance, has shifted away from certain South African ports and opted for neighbouring countries’ ports to facilitate the transportation of their resources out of the country.

Nombasa Tsengwa, the CEO of Exxaro, recently expressed optimism about Mozambique’s Maputo port. 

She said, “We will be reporting some movement through Maputo – that’s where we’ve gotten most success.”


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