South African wine sales in the UK have overtaken those of France for the first time, according to the latest figures from market analysts AC Nielsen.
South African wine sales grew 20% by volume between January 2009 and January 2010 to 12 270 000 nine-litre cases, compared to a decline in French wine sales of 12%, to 12 266 000 nine-litre cases; growth that also saw South Africa becoming the fourth-largest wine selling country in the UK.
“This is a momentous occasion for the South African wine industry, which is relatively young in terms of the global export market,” Wines of South Africa UK market manager Jo Mason said in a statement last week.
“In 1994 our producers wouldn’t have dreamt of selling more wine to the UK than France, but now the wine landscape has changed completely.”
‘Up there with the best’
Although the South African wine industry is over 350 years old, it is recently that the country’s exports have seen significant growth. In 1994, the industry exported around 50-million litres of wine globally; by the close of 2009, exports had increased eightfold, reaching almost 400-million litres.
Mason pointed out that UK consumers no longer “defaulted” to European wine, and that the quality of wine from South Africa was up there with the best in the world.
“This achievement has coincided with a year where South Africa is thrust into the spotlight as host nation for the [2010 Fifa World Cup], which should ensure continued success for our wines, as visitors flock to the Cape or crack open a bottle while watching the game.”