Christensen: “Africa is the new China”

Troy Christensen, chief executive of Accolade Wines, believes Africa is going to be the next China in terms of emerging economies to watch.

Speaking at the opening seminar at Cape Wine 2012, Christensen told of how all eyes will be on Africa in the coming years.

“Africa is going to be the next China. As China’s economy continues to slow, Africa has a great opportunity to become one of the world’s leading emerging economies and a sustainable driver of economic growth,” he said.

“The Chileans and Australians are putting teams in place in Africa to sell their wines there.

“The South African wine industry has the quality, people and the products to succeed, now it just needs to get the story out there in the US and China,” he added.

During his speech, Christensen also spoke of the importance of building “brand South Africa.”

“The Malbec brand is incredibly strong and is driving growth in Argentina, and they can’t make enough Moscato in the US to quench consumers’ thirst,” he said.

“We need to build brand South Africa because there’s a great brand story there, from the passion of the people and the beauty of the landscape to the fantastic quality to price offering,” he added.

In terms of where South Africa should be building its wine brand, Christensen believes both China and the US hold a lot of potential.

“Constellation didn’t give enough time or attention to South African wines because they posed a threat to sales of US wines in the domestic market, but there’s a chance for South African wines in the US now with Accolade,” he said.

“As for China, there are great opportunities to build brand South Africa there as young wine consumers educate themselves abroad and continue to seek the sophistication of fine wine. There are a lot of incredibly savvy and engaged young Chinese wine consumers out there now,” he added.

Christensen however remained sceptical about the idea of building brand South Africa through its terroir message.

“You can’t out-terroir France. Australia tried the regional approach a few years ago and it didn’t work – it just ended up confusing and overwhelming consumers,” he said.

“At entry level, it’s more important for South Africa to tell the stories behind the wines and save the terroir message for the small percentage of consumers at the top end,” he added.

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