80 million litres of wine grapes turned to juice

South African producers are facing a surplus stock of between 280 and 300 million litres of wine due to an earlier covid-19 related alcohol ban and continuing sales restrictions

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Wine grape producers in South Africa have signed off between 60 to 80 million litres of their grapes for grape juice by local manufacturers of fruit concentrate in South Africa.

This is due to the current wine surplus challenge faced by the wine industry, says Wanda Augustyn, manager of media and communications of the wine industry body Vinpro.

She indicates that this is an import substitution, usually from countries such as Argentina and Spain. Furthermore, she revealed that this figure may rise due to the upcoming grape crop harvest which is estimated to be close to 1.3 million tonnes according to industry bodies the South African Wine Industry Information and Systems (Sawis) and Vinpro.

Rico Basson, the managing director of Vinpro. Photo: Supplied
Rico Basson, the managing director of Vinpro. Photo: Supplied

Currently, Mzansi wine producers are facing a surplus stock of 280 million to 300 million litres of wine due to the alcohol ban and restrictions on sales in 2020, as well as the upcoming harvest says Vinpro managing director Rico Basson.

This is almost equal to the volume of wine sold on the local market every year, according to Vinpro and SAWIS. As a result, the industry is slowly starting to implement strategies to eradicate this surplus stock as it poses a risk for the industry.

“The future for the South African wine industry (is dependent on how it grows) value versus volume to ensure a more sustainable sector. The wine surplus on a domestic and global level poses a risk for the industry as this can erode the positive strides over the past few years to reposition.”

Other alternatives for surplus wine

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Augustyn says that a disaster recovery plan has been formulated by local producers and wineries to eradicate this problem.

“Interventions (of the disaster recovery plan) include applying for financial relief from government of which the tourism industry grant has realised. Stimulating demand locally, internationally and through wine tourism while curbing illicit trade, and then finally reducing supply.”

Wanda Augustyn, media and communications manager at Vinpro
Wanda Augustyn, media and communications manager at Vinpro. Photo: Supplied

Augustyn adds, “Wine industry bodies have been working closely with various producer cellars and distilleries to find alternative uses for this year’s wine surplus such as, hand sanitiser.

Various contracts have been secured with manufacturers of fruit concentrate to take in a portion of the 2021 harvest and wine grape producers and cellars are also taking stock of their vineyards and making changes in the way in which they can prepare for the 2021’s harvest.”

Meanwhile cellar and vineyard considerations have included restoring former wine tanks or purchasing additional tanks in preparation of the new harvest for larger cellars.

Smaller wineries looked at other ways to manage cellar capacity, including uprooting unprofitable vines and adapting vineyard practices to reduce costs and maintain quality while managing crop size, indicated Augustyn.

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