Posts Tagged ‘wines of south africa’

 

South African wine exports to reach now high in 2013.

South African wine exports to reach now high in 2013.

 

South African wine exports are poised to beat their 2012 record this year following high yields and on demand for premium vintages from North America and Asia, industry executives and growers said.

Wine exports rose to 469 million liters (124 million U.S. gallons) in the year ending April 30, up 25 percent from the previous 12 months and more than triple the total shipped in 2000, data from the Wines of South Africa trade body, or WOSA, show. Bulk shipments rose 53 percent while those of bottled and packaged wines fell 5 percent, as large producers bottled more in export markets.

Although wine has been grown in South Africa since Dutch settlers arrived in the 17th century, the country was cut off from trade during the apartheid era of racial discrimination, which ended in 1994 with the first all-race elections. Two decades on, exporters are seeking to consolidate in established markets such as the U.K. and Germany while boosting sales in Asia and Africa.

“If you think about South Africa’s history, we’ve been making wine for 350 years but it’s only really since 1994 that we’ve actively pursued the export market, that we’ve been welcome and accepted,” Johan Erasmus, general manager of the Glen Carlou winery in the Paarl Valley north east of Cape Town, said at a London tasting in March. “We are much more in touch with consumers worldwide.”

A wet winter meant plenty of underground water, helping to boost yields in 2013, according to Su Birch, Chief Executive Officer at WOSA. Yields at the 2012 harvest rose to 14.13 metric tons per hectare (2.471 acres), the highest for at least six years, and probably climbed to about 14.90 tons this year, according to estimates based on preliminary data from WOSA.

 

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(image courtesy of Aletta Gardner/EWN)

(image courtesy of Aletta Gardner/EWN)

 

As the smoke clears after the unrest in various fruit-growing areas of the Western Cape, and with the next round of protests demanding higher wages for farm labourers and seasonal pickers on its way, the South African wine industry is weighing up the implications to its business model and to the way of life for many among the vineyards.

 

To date, the strike for an increase in the minimum wage from R69 to R150 a day – which has involved the intimidation of farmers and their full-time employees, looting, the destruction of property and the loss of life – has largely been confined to fruit farms that do not produce grapes for making wine.

But with cellars gearing up for the 2013 harvest and the pay dispute apparently no closer to resolution than it was when violence broke out in De Doorns, Wolseley, Grabouw and elsewhere last year, it seems inevitable that more wine farms – especially those using part-time workers – will soon become the focus of attention for the strike leaders as well as the political and criminal factions seeking to gain from the protests.

Should the wine grape harvest this year be seriously disrupted, it is a very real possibility that some farmers could go out of business.

Many will be among those whose only source of income comes from the grapes they sell to wine producers and whose business model revolves around low prices and large tonnage. Others up against the wall will be those making or selling wine whose success hinges more on offering the best prices than it does on the best quality, and who operate in sectors of the market where branding is not a factor.

On the other hand, the South African wine industry also comprises large corporations as well as a number of private wine farm owners with the means to weather the storm.

Many of these stakeholders are already paying way better than the minimum wage while providing their staff with decent accommodation and more, such as crèche and church facilities.

But of as much concern to these stakeholders as the cost implications of having to pay more to their workers or hiring fewer people and opting for increased mechanisation is the straining of the relationships they have with the farm hands and how to embrace a business model revolving more around quality and branding rather than tending to play the price card.

 

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Protest action on farms during the heart of the picking season will severely hurt the sustainability of farms and could result in job losses, the farmers’ union federation Asuf said on Friday.


The Agri-sector Unity Forum said that ongoing labour unrest in the Western Cape’s fruit producing regions will impact negatively on production, the ability to serve local and international markets and the viability of farms.

“The knock-on effects of higher food prices and retrenchment of workers will follow as enterprises are forced to either or close down,” said Asuf in a statement.

The umbrella body, who represents all major agricultural unions, said the mechanisation or venture into less labour intensive industries would inevitably lead to greater unemployment.

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Strikers were turning away trucks and buses in the Wolesley area to stop non-striking farm workers from going to work on Wednesday, SABC radio news reports.

They had also closed a road into a nearby township.

It was also reported that farmers in the Hex River Valley had employed private security personnel to protect their property against strikers.

Western Cape farmworkers went on strike last year, demanding that their daily wages be increased from R69 to R150. They also wanted a coherent land reform programme.
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WINE producers are on tenterhooks amid hopes that a good 2012-13 crop could boost exports and help offset other issues in the industry.

Industrial action last month led to the death of two people and caused damage worth about R100m in the Western Cape. Farm workers were demanding an increase in their daily wage from R69 to R150.

The strikes are due to start again on January 9, which is also meant to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Land Act that confined black people to only 13% of the country’s land mass.

Wines of South Africa chairman Johann Krige said yesterday it was still too early to tell if there would be a bumper crop. “We have had a reasonable hot spell for about a week and it is too early to say what impact that would have on the current crop,” Mr Krige said.

Last week, the South African Wine Industry Information and Systems (Sawis) said the current crop would be… read on

 

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