The South African wine industry’s greatest enemy was not the Australians, Chileans or southern French, but the industry itself, were the hard hitting words of Sainsbury’s former wine director, Allan Cheesman.
Opening the 29th Nederburg Auction in Paarl he told them they needed to tackle the common goal – South African wine.
He said they had to continue what they have just started – creating a powerful generic brand South Africa – to define exactly what needs to be done competitively, communicate it effectively and work together.
“So many nations do not sing the harmony song – at least try to,” he said.
Cheesman, who is now consulting for the UK retail giant, however, did praise the South Africans for their drive, energy and desire to succeed which has seen them rise to number 4 in the UK over the past 10 years.
He said supermarkets, among others, were not giving wine additional shelf space, culling ranges and simplifying the offer to customers. At the same time there was a need to invest in brands, including brand South Africa, offering wines across the spectrum from Chenin Blanc to estate wines.
Looking to the future he said one of the most exciting development was the “virtual” range. The development of complex ranging systems and different formats of stores – coupled with the move to internet-based home-delivered shopping was able to provide an enhanced, wider and more eclectic range of wines.