Despite the lifting of the latest ban on the sale of alcohol, Wines of South Africa (WOSA) says the current outlook for the industry is extremely bleak.
A number of producers are set to close their doors in the coming months, putting thousands of jobs at risk.
The industry is part of both the agriculture and tourism sector and employs over 300 000 people.
WOSA says the harm was too great and the damage cannot be undone. However, in July, there was a good rise in export figures.
Longstanding relationships and proper communication with overseas markets has helped some but for many, it is simply too late.
WOSA spokesperson Martana Calow says, “We anticipate job losses of over 20 000 with many more livelihoods impacted beyond and throughout the value chain. A number of producers are selling their farms and we are likely to see several of our cellars closing their doors over the next 6 to 18 months as some might try to somehow stay afloat. We do however now need to look to the future and try to pick up the pieces through a well thought through disaster recovery which we are in the process of crafting.”
Calow says together with the wider alcohol industry support over R150 million has been pledged to assist government with programmes to address alcohol abuse.
Calow speaks about the impact the lockdown has had on wine producers:
Buy local to support SA wine producers
Wine farmer Denise Stubbs says she is deeply worried as she is the major stakeholder of Thokozane Wines and Hospitality, an initiative that shares profits with workers.
Ninety-five percent of their wine is sold locally and as a result of the two bans on the sales of alcohol, workers had to be retrenched.
Stubbs has welcomed the latest developments, but hard work lies ahead, with the biggest concern is wine that still lies in tanks.
She says there is now great urgency to get their brand on shelves as soon as possible.
“We need to be strategic now and make sure we export at much higher volumes and hopefully our importers will support us on that level including government. Secondly, we need to make sure that our supermarkets support local and our people in South Africa in the country start buying more South African wine than international brands. It’s not going to happen overnight because we don’t know what’s lying ahead for us. COVID-19 is still alive and well and we don’t know if government can close the doors for us as well.”
Stubbs says the second ban came as a major shock and urges government to communicate better in the future.
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