Exports of South African wine to the United Kingdom (UK) rose 23% by value and 7% in volume in 2020, according to the latest figures released by industry body, SA Wine Industry Information and Systems (SAWIS).

Looking at the period of January to December 2020, South African wine exports to the UK enjoyed a good measure of success, especially as buyers seemed to gravitate towards higher value wines overall – to the extent that the value of packaged wines saw an increase of 28%.

The UK currently accounts for 23% of all South African exports by value and is proving to be the fastest growing of the top ten key export markets. Globally, South African wine exports increased 8% by value in 2020, with a small 1% downturn in volume.

Times have been tough for the local industry lately, with the government banning exports for five weeks in early 2020. Even when exports were allowed again, the reduced number of staff at Cape Town port and bad weather slowed shipping down.

Joint efforts to salvage wine industry

The industry has also had to face up to the loss of tourism due to Covid-19, which has led to the closure of the country’s on-trade and even spells of outright prohibition, including at the present time.

In a bid to support the South African wine industry there were several marketing initiatives over the course of last year, including the Great British Braai Off and Spectacular South Africa campaigns – both of which proved highly successful.

Jo Wehring, UK market manager for Wines of South Africa, said: “It has been heartening to see the support for the South African industry in the UK trade, and this has now translated into a significant jump in export figures. We have seen many importers, retailers, and wine commentators go above and beyond to help our industry and make UK wine drinkers aware of the quality and potential of great South African wines.

“We hope our activities, such as the #SpectacularSouthAfrica social media campaign, have helped to bring some new UK consumers into the category. We look forward to welcoming the UK trade back to South Africa as soon as possible.” – The Drinks Business