Virus booze ban causes headache for S.African winemakers
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by Tanya Steenkamp
Wineries around Cape Town fear a nine-week alcohol sales ban will leave a bad hangover that outlasts the coronavirus pandemic, as South African bottles lose their spots on international shelves and thousands of jobs are lost.
Africa’s most industrialised economy shuttered liquor stores at the start of a strict anti-coronavirus lockdown on March 27 to limit the spread of COVID-19, and reduce pressure on busy emergency wards.
The controversial booze ban was lifted on June 1st as part of a gradual easing of confinement measures to limit the economic setbacks of the pandemic.
But wine producers in the valleys of South Africa’s Western Cape province are concerned the industry will struggle to bounce back.
The alcohol sales ban was coupled with a six-week export freeze — raising concern buyers could turn to suppliers in other countries if demand abroad was not rapidly met.
“We were the only country in the world where wine exports were not allowed,” said Boyce Lloyd, CEO of South African top wine and spirits producer KWV.
Lloyd said buyers in key importing countries such as Canada, Finland and Sweden removed bottles that did not meet a minimum sales rate.
“When you do not have stock on the shelf obviously you can’t record a sale and then you get delisted,” he said.
“That is a very real risk we are facing.” (AFP)