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Imports of Chilean wines set to overtake South Africa?

Published:  23 July, 2008

Chile has recorded a 26% rise in sales by volume and 23% by value in the past twelve months and looks likely to become the fifth biggest importer into the UK by overtaking South Africa.

Sales have risen from 5.8million nine-litre cases to almost 7.4m in the past year (AC Nielsen MAT 07.10.06).

Its sales lagged South Africa by more than 2m cases in 2006 but the gap has narrowed to less than 300, 000 cases.

Michael Cox, Wines of Chile UK director, told "We're making real progress if we overtake South Africa, it'd be a good psychological boost. Even if we didn't, what most concerns me is driving value over volume." However the statistics show its average bottle price has dropped from 3.80 to 3.72.

Jo Mason, UK market manager for Wines of South Africa, said she was not disappointed that Chile had overtaken South Africa in the multiples.

Despite a fall in sales of 5% by volume and value this year, she pointed out that its average price had increased in the same period and was higher than Chile's (3.80).

"Simply growing market share is not our overall objective. I hope we'll be back in positive figures by the end of the year but what's most important for South Africa is that our producers are profitable," she said.

"We need to focus on getting the consumer to engage with our wines. Deep discounting is one way to raise volume but it's not the only way, we intend to educate consumers about South Africa."

Cox also said teaching consumers was crucial through trade and consumer shows. He claimed Chile could make progress in the sub 5 volume market with potential gaps in the market arising from Australia's supply shortfall but said the 5 to 15 was "a goldmine that Chile must mine as best it could."