Boxed Wine In South Africa Outsold Bottles For The First Time In 2020

Due to long bans on alcohol sales during the pandemic, South Africa wine sales in the local market shrank by a fifth last year – but so-called “bag in box” wines proved more resilient than bottled wine.

New data from the industry body SA Wine Industry Information and Systems (Sawis) shows total sales of still wine came to only 285 million litres last year – compared to 356 million litres in 2019. Sparkling wine sales were also down 20%, to below 8 million litres.

But while sales of wine in glass bottles dropped 24% to 121.5 million litres sold, boxed wine sales only fell 10% to 126.3 million.

This is the first time that boxed wine outsold bottled in South Africa, Sawis confirmed.

“Our thinking is that it has to do with Covd-19 lockdown and bans; consumers buying bag-in-box and not bottles,” says Charles Whitehead, manager of information services at Sawis.

In the pandemic, more people drank at home as alcohol sales in restaurants and pubs were banned for months, which strengthened the demand for boxed wine. Consumers, hit by retrenchments and economic hardship, were also more price conscious, opting for the traditionally cheaper boxed products.   

Philip Retief, CEO of Van Loveren Vineyards, says Covid has strengthened the trend towards boxed wine, which has been growing over the past five years, while demand for wine in glass bottles has stagnated.

Boxed wine is seen as offering more value, and being more convenient, says Retief. And because many quality wines are now also available in boxes, younger wine-drinkers often don’t have the negative perceptions that older generations have about drinking wine from a box.

more on