WOSA hugs the wrong tree

The recent contention of Richemont chairman Johann Rupert that WOSA, the exporters’ mouthpiece, are hugging the wrong tree in punting diversity as the USP for SA wine exports, has been confirmed by the news that Tesco, largest seller of wine in the UK (largest export market for SA wine) is “making drastic cuts to its wine supply base in a bid to improve profitability and encourage brand owners to increase consumer loyalty.”

tesco 300x225 WOSA hugs the wrong tree

Off License News quotes Claire Lorains, Tesco wine category manager.  “The only way we can deliver growth in the market is by working with fewer suppliers to give better sales.”  She notes that “customers say there are too many products on shelf and the main way to differentiate them becomes by price.  A lot of wines don’t have a true consumer franchise, so they are not selling through, and therefore not delivering growth for suppliers who need to invest in their brand to drive customer awareness.”

Perhaps even more worrying for SA exporters is the comment “the market is in decline and tax absorbs almost all the value.”  The declaration of war on binge drinking in the UK and the outlaw of BOGOF and Three for Ten deals, will not help, either.  Is the UK really the market in which WOSA should spend most of its R35 million honey pot?

All eyes will be on the WOSA guest list for Cape Wine 2012 in September.  Will it be the usual crowd of luvvies, barflies and friends or will restaurateurs and retailers from Africa, the continent which can’t get enough of SA wine, be included?  Producers should insist on drawing up the guest list as October’s Cape Wine Europe tasting flew bloggers in from the USA who have yet to write about SA wine.