SOUTH African wine producers are looking to the African market to pick up sales after a sluggish year, and Angola and Nigeria are firmly in their sights.
The producers are doubling efforts to cater for Angolans’ thirst for sparkling wine and Nigerian demand for bottles of red, according to the country’s leading trade body for the industry.
The aim is to more than double annual sales growth to 5% in Nigeria, boosting profits from Africa’s largest economy, said Matome Mbatha of Wines of South Africa, in an interview in Cape Town on Thursday.
Exports of mostly red wine to Nigeria nation stand at 4.5 million litres (1.19 million gallons) a year, while Angola buys 6 million litres, of which 5 million litres are bubbly wine, mostly shipments of J.C. Le Roux, a low-cost sparkling wine that in South Africa can retail for less than $4 a bottle, Mbatha said.
“They are crazy about J.C. Le Roux in Angola, it is the biggest mover in the market,” Mbatha said.
“In Nigeria, they really like to consume red wine there, as much as it’s hot, they love your Pinotage, your Merlot.”
South African wine exports declined to 422.7 million litres last year from 525.6 million liters in 2013, according to the Wines of South Africa’s website.
Exporters also aim to increase sales in Uganda, Kenya and Ghana. Another key growth market is China, the world’s most-populous nation, where exports increased by more than 30% last year, said Mbatha.
Wine consumption in Africa is rising five times faster than the global average, according to a study of 24 sub-Saharan African countries released in June by British wine consultancy IWSR at the world’s leading wine fair, Vinexpo.
Africans gulped down a total of 864 million bottles of still light wine in 2013—a rise of 17.3% in five years. That remains relatively modest for a continent of 1.1 billion people.
But the market is forecast to grow another 11% by 2018, as lifestyles evolve in the wake of African growth that has outstripped global GDP by nearly three percentage points over the past 15 years.
According to data from the World Health Organisation, wealthier countries in Africa tend to drink mainly beer; Spanish and French-colonised countries love their wine. Spirits aren’t very popular in Africa, but those countries that do the “hard drinks” tend to be island or coastal countries, while those that grow a lot maize, millet or sorghum will mostly do traditional brews from grain.
South Africa is the world’s seventh-biggest producer of wine by volume, representing 4% of global output last year.
The country grows white wine grapes, including Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and its red varieties include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage, which was created in South Africa.
The country’s almost 100,000 hectares (247,100 acres) of vineyards are mostly concentrated in the Western Cape and the industry employs 300,000 people.