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Wine farmers plead poverty

Jan 22 2015 19:15
Carin Smith

Cape Town - Wine farmers and producers are simply not making enough money and are therefore not planting any new vines, according to VinPro CEO Rico Basson.

He addressed more than 800 delegates at the 10th annual Nedbank VinPro Information Day, which took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on Thursday.  

VinPro is the service organisation for 3 600 SA wine producer and cellar members, striving towards their commercial sustainability, as well as that of the broader producer industry and its strategic role-players.

Another issue Basson addressed was that there is not enough focus on creating more products in the wine industry based on black economic empowerment (BEE). He would also like to see more land in the industry falling under BEE.

"For land reform we need a comprehensive transformation plan with clear, set targets," he said.

As for the wine market, Basson said the local wine industry is not focusing enough on what the market wants.

"SA is the lowest consumer of all the wine producing countries. We must understand how to get into the purse of the consumer," he said.

He also pointed out that SA wine cannot compete internationally without more free trade agreements.

"We need a new strategic framework for the industry and if we do it right we could add another 100 000 jobs in the industry," he said.

"It is not about a lack of resources. I think we have enough resources, we are just not aligning it well."

This framework must include a comprehensive market strategy (including for the local market), a comprehensive wine tourism strategy and a comprehensive branding strategy.

As for gaps in the industry, he pointed out that good progress is being made as far as research is concerned. This includes global market research.

One of the challenges he mentioned is that the wine industry, labour and government must agree on the way forward.

"Agri-politics have derailed many of our processes in the past," he warned.

"There are three critical components for the way forward, namely creativity, courage and a can do approach."

Abrie Botha, chairperson of VinPro, agreed with Basson and said there will always be challenges in the wine industry, but now is the time to tackle them.

According to Phillip Wessels, group managing executive: retail and business banking of Nedbank, the SA wine industry contributes more than R38bn to the country's gross domestic product (GDP), provides jobs for more than 168 000 people and is the 6th largest wine industry in the world.

READ: Wine farmers actually plead for sustainability

*Are you involved in the wine industry? Share your views on the current situation and its challenges.

vinpro  |  wine  |  sa economy  |  agribusiness  |  agriculture


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