Fine wine shows crucial to growth of regional economy


Fine wine shows make a crucial contribution to the regional economy by driving excellence in the industry and raising the profile of local wines locally and internationally.

That’s the view of Izak Odendaal, an investment strategist at Old Mutual Wealth. He believes that by encouraging dynamism, competition and rigour in winemaking, fine wine shows boost not only the wine industry itself, but also its affiliated industries.

Odendaal cites a recent report commissioned by South African Wine Industry Information and Systems (SAWIS), which found that in 2013 wine contributed more than R36bn to the economy through agriculture, manufacturing, trade, tourism and hospitality.

More than 57% of wine produced in SA in 2013 was exported, generating R8.5bn, with sales doubling in rand value from 2008 to 2013, the report found.

This points not only to the increased appeal of our exports due to the weaker Rand, but also to growing appreciation of our high-end wines by discerning tipplers overseas.

“The report found that wine’s contribution to the economy grew by nearly 38% between 2008 and 2013, despite a global economic downturn in that time. That couldn’t be achieved without a commitment to progress, skills development and transformation, and events like the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show both drive and reward those efforts.”

The impact on economic development on otherwise poverty-stricken areas shouldn’t be underestimated, and nor should the impact of transforming the wine sector itself, notes Odendaal.

“It’s vital to both motivate and showcase efforts within the wine sector to constantly raise standards and for those efforts to be honoured through awards and business progression. The Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show is arguably one of the best example of efforts to accomplish that.”

The SAWIS report points out that in contrast to competitors in Europe, SA’s wine sector received relatively little government support. Despite that, it remains the world’s eighth largest producer.

The report also found that the number of skilled and semi-skilled workers in the sector has risen since 2008, again pointing to the transformation of the sector.

Even though South Africa is one of the leading wine producers in the world, wine has lost market share to other alcoholic beverages in the local market. Local wine consumption of around 7.5 litres per person per year is also significantly lower than that of other leading wine producers, such as Australia, Argentina or Chile with 24, 23 and 13 litres per person per year respectively.

“Old Mutual is proud of its 14-year affiliation with one of the country’s top wine competitions, the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. This sponsorship is a natural fit for us. Like investments, wines take time to cultivate and develop. What’s more, investing for the long-term, like making world-class wine, requires specialist care and expertise.

“We’re committed to discovering talent and highlighting it both locally and internationally, and we enjoy building relationships with wine lovers all over South Africa and the world,” says Karen Thomas, Head of Brand at Old Mutual.

Old Mutual, headline sponsor of the competition since its inception, sees great value in a process that identifies the country’s top wines and makes this information available to wine drinkers, enabling them to make discerning choices, says Odendaal.

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