“It is encouraging that strong gains were achieved in the UK and Germany, our two biggest markets, where packaged wines in particular showed very healthy growth,” Wines of South Africa CEO Siobhan Thompson said in a statement.
“Packaged wines to the UK were up 31 per cent and to Germany by 17 per cent. At the same time, exports also grew across an increasingly broad range of other markets.”
Wine sales to the United Kingdom rose 21 per cent to 111.2 million litres. The UK is South Africa’s biggest export destination and accounts for just over one-fifth of total volumes exported last year.
Volumes to Germany also increased 24 per cent to 96.5 million litres, and exports to Russia increased by 18 per cent to 37.3 million litres. Packaged sales in Denmark also saw substantial growth and were up 21 per cent.
Thompson added that the significant growth in Russian sales was partly as a result of the shortfall in the European harvest, where in some cases, yields were the lowest in 40 years.
“This was also the reason South African sales to wine-producing countries such as France, Italy and Spain increased so dramatically. However, we see as significant, the impressive growth in high potential markets such as the United States, where we are confident of achieving long-term growth,” said Thompson.
Exports to the United States increased by 37 per cent, and its market is fast-becoming an export priority for South Africa. The US is currently the world's biggest wine market.
White wine sales rose by almost 18 per cent and red wines by 22 per cent. Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinotage and Merlot wines were reported to have seen the biggest increase in volumes exported.
South African wine has also begun making positive inroads into other African countries, as well as into Japan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates markets.
“South Africa is increasingly perceived as the source of interesting, original and well-made wines, able to appeal to [those] eager to expand their repertoire,” said Thompson.
“This is a very good positioning from which to build our base, particularly as we target Millennials, who are especially eager to encounter new taste experiences.”