Podcast: Opportunities abound for black wine brands

Amid an ongoing strong harvest season, Mzansi wine companies are quite optimistic about what 2022 holds. The new year is filled with many opportunities for black winemakers, in particular, as well as other black talent in the wine industry.

Rico Basson, Managing Director of Vinpro joins us for this weekend edition of the Farmer’s Inside Track agriculture podcast to learn about industry challenges and how growers have weathered the tough times brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and socio-economic factors. He also shares some exciting developments that can be expected this year.

Basson says the pandemic has forced companies to do some soul-searching. “What we’ve seen coming out of Covid-19 and within Covid-19 is massive soul-searching by many companies changing their strategic plan overnight, becoming much more consumer-focused and adaptable.”

He points out that the wine industry has been unable to trade for around 200 days over the past two years, leaving many industry players with a heavy financial burden and a lack of cash.

Basson admits there were many complicated challenges, such as rising input costs due to factors like Eskom and the national minimum wage, which had an undesirable impact on wine businesses.

But although there has been a lot of pressure on farmers, the pandemic has had a positive effect by forcing the sector to be more adaptive and innovative in its operations.

” That will take time. I think we are in a difficult domestic environment. Where we sell 50% of our wine consumption expenditure, we are under pressure and so we see it going down, which is not always the best news for producers who have to move that 50% cost somewhere,” says Basson.

Transformation in Mzansi Wine Industry

On the positive side, the wineries managed to increase their exports by exporting nearly 400 million liters. This is 70 million more than in 2020. There has been good growth in export markets, such as the UK, USA, Canada, Nigeria and China.

There has also been an increase in the number of black brands entering the wine industry. Basson points out that with the right direction, black brands with inclusive growth in transformation and a strong customer focus on new channels can thrive.

“The problem is that the industry at the farm level is about three or four percent transformed, if we look at 51% [black ownership] and up to.

“I think we should look at two other things. We should look at transforming the value chain, which means we need black label and bottle companies, and then also the human element. We’re not emphasizing the huge shift we’re seeing in talent and new people of color coming into the industry,” Basson points out.

ALSO READ: Wine industry honors Mzansi pioneers

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