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Paul urges South Africa to aim for UK high end

Published:  23 July, 2008

Although the United Kingdom currently takes up virtually half the total volume of wine exported by South Africa, the full potential of this market has yet to be tapped, said Mike Paul, MD of Western Wines, last week. Paul, who was addressing a marketing seminar for South Africa's wine producers in Cape Town, hosted by Wines of South Africa (WOSA) in association with Western Wines, said: The UK trade is highly receptive to new wines and actively seeks points of difference to generate ongoing interest among consumers in this fiercely competitive market. Whereas California is more focused on its domestic markets than it is on the UK, and Chile and Argentina do not enjoy close historic and cultural links with Britain, South Africa is in an ideal position to maximise its advantages. Close trading, tourism and cultural ties with the UK, physical proximity to the market and discernibly South African brands give the country significant opportunities to exploit.' Last year, Cape wine exports to the UK passed the 75 million litre mark, reflecting a growth in volume of 30% on the previous year, according to WOSA's CEO, Su Birch. She said provisional figures for July and August 2002 indicated that sales had far exceeded forecasts and that a 25% growth on 2001 was expected for the year. Paul urged the local producers to learn from the success of the Australian wine industry and said that the first step in building the value of its wine exports to the UK would be to develop and communicate a strategy based on sound market research, while projecting a decisive sense of unity among producers. Paul also called for local producers to develop brands that created a recognisable South African identity, to accentuate their uniqueness and shift their focus from the mainstream to the higher end of the market, in order to elevate the country's image as a wine producer. Whereas the average price for South African wines from July 2001 to June 2002 was 3.48, the Australians achieved an average of 4.25, with the highest concentration of their wines sold in the 4-5 bracket. South Africa's highest concentration of sales was in the 3-4 bracket and it was still heavily represented in the segment below 3.