The trade body for South Africa's wine producers has attacked a claim that sales values in the UK have plunged in the first 11 months of this year.

report on the Business Day website today (22 December) has claimed that the value of South African wine sales in the UK has dropped by GBP3 (US$4.60) a bottle in the UK in the year so far. The figure translates into 48.5% of lost revenue for wine exporters, the news organisation said.

However, Wines of South Africa has moved to correct the report, explaining that the research cited by Business Day actually showed that sales of South African wine priced at around GBP3 a bottle had fallen during 2010.

"South Africa has seen a slight drop in value sales of South African wine sales in the UK, down by 7% (MAT to 30 October 2010) but this is on the back of two years of strong, double-digit growth," WoSA said today. "The reason for this drop is a decline in sales of South African wines at the entry level in the UK, around GBP3 a bottle - a price point that many consider unsustainable and not conducive to long-term, profitable growth, so this is not unexpected.

The trade body noted, however, that sales of wines at over GBP5 in the country rose in the period.

While the Business Day report also said that supermarket chains in the country have been packaging the SA wine they have bought themselves, WoSA said that the publication had misinterpreted a statement it had issued last week.

In explaining a fall in packaged wine exports, offset by a rise in bulk exports, WoSA had said last week that this was due to a shift to UK bottling, "particularly for some of the bigger supermarket brands".

"This refers to brands sold in UK supermarkets, not supermarket-owned brands," the trade body said today. "WoSA has not commented on the behaviour of UK retailers and acknowledges that, while packaging some wines in the UK, the supermarkets continue to purchase other packaged wines from South African producers."