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South Africa must do more to build brands - Accolade Wines GM

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The UK & Ireland general manager of Accolade Wines has challenged the South African wine industry to show leadership and focus more on brand-led sales.

Accolade Wines said sales of South African wine in the UK have dropped

Accolade Wines said sales of South African wine in the UK have dropped

Speaking to just-drinks at this year's Cape Wine conference and exhibition, Paul Schaafsma said the UK, one of the largest markets for South Africa's wine producers, still sees South African wine as “entry-level, cheap, private label, own label”. He said that industry efforts to highlight the “expectational quality” of South African wine have not yet connected with consumers.

“We need leaders to step up and take a stance on what South Africa means, what its position is,” he said. “There have been too many copycat wines, too much 'We can do it cheapest'.”

An Accolade presentation at Cape Wine today showed figures that revealed a 5% value drop for South African wines in the UK and a 6% volume decline over the year to the end of July. Meanwhile, the top four South African brands in the UK, including Accolade's Kumala, lost GBP31m (US$48m) in sales in the last 12 months.

However, Schaafsma said South Africa needs more brands in the UK, and that trade body Wines of South Africa (WoSA) needed to spearhead efforts to achieve that. “WoSA has to come in and ask: What is our problem right now? What do we need to do? And if they see the opportunities that brands bring, then they'll channel their investment and support that way.”

Schaafsma said he was “very supportive” of WoSA and its management team, but suggested lessons could be learned from Australia, which has focussed on the country's regions and brands. He also said South American wineries had benefited from “owning” the Malbec varietal.

“If you think about Chenin Blanc or Pintoage, why aren’t we talking about those things?” he said. “Why on earth can't South Africa own Chenin and Pintotage?”

For a full round-up of just-drinks' coverage of Cape Wine 2015, click here.


Sectors: Wine

Companies: Accolade Wines

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