2010 WORLD CUP: Desperately Needed Goal For Wine
Recent Western Cape Business News
Like many sectors of South African society, the wine industry is set to capitalise on the enormous benefit from the World Cup.
According to Danie de Wet, proprietor of the De Wetshof Estate near Robertson, the 2010 World Cup offers South Africa the biggest opportunity to establish itself as a prominent wine nation in the eyes of the world since the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990. The latter event led, among others, to the lifting of economic sanctions and opened international markets to South African wine and other products.
“The image of South African wine is inextricably linked to the holistic image of South Africa,” says De Wet. “The excellent organisation of the tournament has exceeded the world’s greatest expectations. This is what billions of TV-viewers see daily and what hundreds of thousands of people who are visiting this country for the duration of the event, have experienced themselves.
The smooth running of the event coupled with South Africa’s natural beauty and hospitable people, as well as worldwide positive publicity, has made South Africa a proud trademark that no money can buy.”
And according to De Wet, this is precisely the injection South Africa needs to expand on its reputation as an outstanding, world-class wine producing nation.
“There are two main advantages our wine industry can draw from this positive international image,” says De Wet. “Firstly, it means that no longer will international wine consumers have an excuse of passing a shelf of South African wine labels and – as so often has been the case – not have the faintest idea where South Africa is even situated or what status the country enjoys. Thanks to the World Cup everyone now knows where South Africa lies and that it is a unique country with remarkable people and natural resources, as well as organisational abilities and business acumen.
“This particularly underscores opportunities for our wine industry in countries such as China, India and South America where the consumption of wine is on the increase while knowledge of the product and various wine cultures still lags. South Africa’s current presence in the international limelight offers South African agricultural products greater exposure.”
De Wet says the second advantage South Africa can gain from its raised profile is something the local industry desperately needs: international buyers and consumers willing to pay realistic prices for South African wine.
“Regardless of the South African wine industry having being technologically on par with wine countries in the so-called First World for decades, some foreign buyers persist in stigmatising SA as a producer of cheap wine,” says De Wet.
“While wine exports are increasing by volume, they have not done so in value because we allow wine wholesalers overseas to buy our wines cheaply and then to re-sell at those price levels. This has led to the image of South Africa being a country with too many wines of the ‘cheap and cheerful’ variety.”
De Wet says international visitors to South Africa during the World Cup have received a thorough introduction to this country’s wines. “Sales of De Wetshof wines for June were 40% higher than the same period last year, which can largely be attributed to the number of visitors,” he says. “This is hopefully a trend most producers have experienced which will last throughout the tournament.
“South Africa’s performance as the host country for the 2010 World Cup should see to it that every facet of the country, including the tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and communication sectors, will benefit from the professional and positive image the tournament has provided. We dare not let this opportunity pass us by. It is the responsibility of everyone in the industry to see to it that visitors don’t forget us when they depart our shores for their home countries.”
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