Boycott poll ‘inappropriate’ and ‘damaging’28th January, 2013 by Rupert Millar
Wines of South Africa has said that a recent poll in the Guardian on boycotting South African wine “has the potential to do unimaginable damage”.
The poll was posted on the newspaper’s website last week and asked readers whether or not they would consider boycotting South African wine and fruit in the wake of recent strikes over pay.
Fifty-nine percent of those who polled said they would, 41% no.
However, as the drinks business reported at the time, contrary to initial reports wine workers were not involved in the strike action.
The letter, written by WOSA’s CEO Su Birch, said: “The coverage unfairly targets the South African wine industry and has the potential to do unimaginable damage to an industry that is working hard, through its support of the Wine and Agricultural Industry Ethical Association (WIETA), and also Fairtrade, to ensure the ethical treatment of workers.”
Birch added that any boycott could have severe ramifications for the industry’s 275,000 workers.
She wrote: “We feel the call to boycott South African wines is inappropriate and saddening. The wine industry contributes an estimated R27 billion to the South African economy and some 275,000 people are directly employed by the industry.
“These people will be negatively affected if sales fall – a very likely outcome when wine farms are already battling against tough market conditions and if consumers boycott our wines. We ask that consumers support the industry and farm workers by buying our wines, ensuring the efforts by WIETA, Fairtrade, Fair for Life and all our producers can continue.”
The letter went on to describe the growing importance of WIETA’s Ethical Seal, which launched last year and will soon be appearing on bottles in the UK.
The poll is now closed.