S-Africa aims to double wine exports to Nigeria

South African wine producers are trying to cater for Angolans’ thirst for sparkling wine and Nigerians” demand for bottles of red to penetrate the African market, according to the country’s leading trade body for the industry.

wineWine producers aim to more than double annual sales growth to five per cent in Nigeria, boosting profits from Africa’s largest economy, Matome Mbatha, of Wines of South Africa, or WOSA, said in an interview in Cape Town weekend. Exports of mostly red wine to Nigeria have risen to 4.5 million liters (1.19 million gallons) a year, while Angola buys 6 million liters, of which 5 million liters are bubbly wine, mainly shipments of J.C. Le Roux, a low-cost sparkling wine that in South Africa can retail for less than $4 a bottle, Mbatha said.

“They are crazy about J.C. Le Roux” in Angola, “it is the biggest mover in the market,” Mbatha said. “In Nigeria, they really like to consume red wine there, as much as it’s hot, they love your Pinotage, your Merlot.” Exporters also aim to increase sales in Uganda, Kenya and Ghana, which along with Angola and Nigeria, are either preparing to produce oil or already do. Another key growth market is China, the world’s most-populous nation, where exports increased by more than 30 percent last year, said Mbatha.

White Bottles

To boost sales in the U.S., where South African wines command just 1 percent of the market, the industry group is trying to get more retailers to put white-grape Chenin Blanc on their shelves, said Jim Clarke, a U.S.-based official with WOSA, in an interview in Cape Town.

“Our red blends are the ones doing well in the U.S., that is something that South Africa has always done very well and made a priority in making wines,” Clarke said. “We show them the Chenin blanc because it is that middle ground for the more white-wine lovers in the U.S.” South Africa is the world’s seventh-biggest producer of wine by volume, representing 4 percent of global output last year. The country grows white wine grapes, including Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and its red varieties include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage, which was created in South Africa. The country’s almost 100,000 hectares (247,100 acres) of vineyards are mostly concentrated in the Western Cape and the industry employs 300,000 people.

Wine exports declined to 422.7 million liters last year from 525.6 million liters in 2013, according to WOSA’s website.

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