South Africa has pointed to a reduced harvest and competition at the cheaper end of the market for a 17% fall in wine exports last year.

The country shipped 306.3m litres of wine in 2023, down 16.9% on a year earlier, according to data issued by promotional body Wines of South Africa.

Last year’s decline follows a 5% fall in 2022. When measured in rands, the value of the exports inched up 0.9% to R10bn ($532m). The depreciation in the rand over the last year means export revenues dropped 11% to $540m.

South Africa’s 2023 wine harvest saw production volumes drop 14%. Wines of South Africa said “excessive stocks” in countries in the northern and southern hemispheres had an “adverse effect” on prices.

“This can especially be seen at the lower- and entry-level segment of the wine markets where trading is particularly competitive and pricing within this commodity sector leading to a ripple effect throughout the value chain,” the organisation said in a statement.

Packaged wine exports declined 17% to 117.1m litres. Shipments of bulk wine dropped 16.9% to 189.2m litres.

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By GlobalData

The UK is the largest market for South African wine. Packaged exports fell 8% to 28.6m litres, while bulk shipments dipped 1% to 65m litres. Overall, exports to the UK decreased 3% year on year.

Of the five largest markets for South African wine, shipments to Germany, France and Canada all fell. However, exports to Belgium were up 32% at 18.1m litres, taking the country to third place in the list of the country’s biggest customers. Packaged and bulk sales to Belgium both increased, with bulk shipments rising 41%.

Wines of South Africa CEO Siobhan Thompson said: “Quality remains our focus and the consistency that we have seen, along with viticultural improvements, embracing new technologies both in the vineyards and cellars, will allow for the continued upward trajectory in this regard. This is why buyers remain confident in their support of our wines.”

Chardonnay remains the most exported white varietal from South Africa. Volumes fell 28% to 23.5m litres but the price per litre secured for the wine rose 31%, the Wines of South Africa data showed.

Among reds, Shiraz was the most sold product, although volumes dropped 14% to 14.2m litres. The price per litre of Shiraz sold in export markets climbed 19%.