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Saturday 23 August 2014

Stuck in the middle?

6th November, 2003 by db_staff - This article is over multiple pages: 1 2 3 4

While South Africa forges ahead in the UK off-trade, activity in restaurants is scant, especially at the top end.  Charlotte Hey discusses the possibilities for further listings

There’s no denying South Africa has been the buzz of the UK off-trade this year.  With record growth in the sector for two years on the trot, a great response to the recent generic tasting and a big promotional schedule planned in the multiples up to Christmas, it seems that the success is set to continue.

But what about the on-trade? Has the South African generic effort overlooked this vital sector? With the concentration of branded wines coming out of the country is its offer too narrow to make in-roads in what is often anti-brand territory?

And could South Africa’s reputation for value at the lower end affect the country’s performance at the top-end? From a generic point of view Sophie Wagget, marketing manager at Wines of South Africa UK, openly admits that the generic campaign has not given any emphasis to the on-trade to date, but it’s not going to be that way for long.

"It is an area which we are analysing at the moment," she reveals.  "We are looking to focus upon the on-trade more during 2004.  It’s definitely an exciting area for South African wine and one with tremendous potential – education is going to be key in making the opinion formers in the on-trade understand what South Africa can bring to lists."

Unfortunately, though, the feeling that seems to prevail in the top-end restaurants of the south-east is similar to that of Joelle Marti, wine buyer, Great Eastern.  "There is a lot of South African wine produced but only a few that are exciting.

Much of it is about mass production which appeals to the off-trade – it’s on all the shelves; juicy, fruity and cheap.  When you want something a bit more complex there’s no choice.

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