South Africa considers action on bulk wine23rd August, 2012 by Richard Ross
South Africa says it is considering action to “protect its trade interests” over moves by UK wine importers to increase the purchase of wine in bulk.
UK retailers and importers are buying less South African wine in bottle, and moving to greater quantities imported in bulk. Retailers like Tesco and Sainsbury’s are increasingly bottling wine in the UK.
Stephen Hanival, of South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry, says the shift in trade has already led to as many as 700 job losses in the bottling and glass industries in the country. He said: “We certainly hope that the developments on bulk wine don’t lead to any kind of trade war between either South Africa, the UK or any of the European Union countries with whom we trade extensively.”
“However”, he added, “South Africa does have a responsibility to protect its trade interests. Our view is that this is a serious risk to the South African wine industry.”
Hanival commented: “Why shouldn’t South Africa be importing bulk whisky from the UK and bottling it locally, so that we can at least attempt to prevent some of the job losses that we’ve seen up to now spreading to other parts of the economy.”
WRAP, the government-funded body in the UK which promotes recycling, has advocated the advantages of bulk importing of wine but adds: “It is worth noting that in certain circumstances, the socio-economics of a country may mean that the use of bulk transportation will not be appropriate.”
In a statement to the drinks business, Miles Beale, CEO of the UK’s Wine & Spirit Trade Association said: “The reality is that governments and businesses around the world are looking at ways of reducing carbon footprint, and increasing bulk importation of wine into the UK for bottling is one way in which the wine sector can help meet targets to reduce environmental impact.”