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South African wine exports set to resume

Published:  29 April, 2020

The South African government has announced that the ban on exports of wine imposed during lockdown will be lifted from the end of this week as the country eases its measures. 

Under new lockdown regulations, South Africa will allow all agricultural exports, including wine, to resume from Friday 1 May, said South Africa’s cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in a briefing held last night.   

The prohibition on the local sale and distribution of alcohol products is poised to continue. 

The announcement follows a turbulent month for the South African wine industry in which it was initially granted permission for wine to be included in allowable fresh produce products for exports, only to be told just over a week after that the government had banned exports of wine and spirit during the lockdown.  

Siobhan Thompson, CEO, Wines of South Africa (WoSA), said: “We are grateful to President Ramaphosa and the relevant government departments for the confirmation and providing certainty, and as such we endeavour to be responsible in our actions and messaging to ensure the safety of our people.

“As an industry we remain fully committed to implementing a safety protocol, which will effectively address transmission risks across our value chain. The safety of our workforce, customers and consumers are of utmost concern to our industry.”

The South African government initially made the exemption for wine exports on 7 April following intense lobbying by an Industry Exporters Task Team, but then made the dramatic a U-turn on 16 April, bringing all exports of wine to a halt.

WoSA has estimated that the five-week ban during the lockdown period could conservatively have a direct export revenue loss of more than R1 billion (FOB value). 

In addition, it has said the damage to reputation and consistent supply as well as future market opportunities could in fact be “astronomical in the longer term” with the loss of listings for many South African wines within the retail environment.