Pick n Pay has committed to buying 25 million bottles of wine in 2021 to support the local wine industry as they battle post-lockdown financial strains from prolonged restrictions on trade and export.
Vinpro reported that the local wine industry had lost around R400 million a week in revenue when alcohol sales were banned. The industry currently has an estimated 250 to 300 million litres of uncontracted wine, according to Vinpro and SAWIS (South African Wine Industry Information & Systems). This is almost a year’s worth of wine sales.
Gavin Ievers, head of liquor at Pick n Pay, says that the company wants to play its part in helping the local wine industry recover. “There were months during lockdown where we were unable to trade in liquor, and then had restrictions on trading days and hours, so we really understand what the industry is going through. Vineyards were lost and many farms are in business rescue, are experiencing cash flow issues, or have excess volumes they simply can’t move fast enough.”
While the easing of alcohol sales in November was a welcome relief to winemakers, who with the new restrictions can sell wine for off-consumption at estate cellar doors to weekend visitors, the effects of lockdown will be felt for years to come. Winemakers are struggling to sell enough wine to make room for new harvests.
“We’re in a perfect position to help our wine estates and we’ll be promoting local wines right across our stores, and online,” says Ievers.
Pick n Pay’s wine buyers will be working closely with wine farms in the coming weeks to help them sell their excess volumes, and will launch new ranges in store and online.
“We are inviting wine farms to work with us so we can do what we can to help, and prevent estates from having to close their doors.
“We are making more space available in our stores for local wines, and we’re listing more local wines on our online shop. We’ll be backing this up with strong promotions.”
Pick n Pay will also use its Smart Shopper free-to-join Wine Club, now with 140,000 wine-loving members in South Africa. The Wine Club promotes local wineries and producers and offers additional points for buying local wines, unique monthly discounts and exclusive invitations to events.
One such event is the new Winemakers Table Virtual Tasting, a monthly virtual food and wine pairing. Pick n Pay is partnering with wine estates and winemakers to host the online event, and a curated menu is delivered to customers’ doors to enable them to participate virtually. The first event took place earlier this month with Pongracz and tickets sold out within 48 hours. “This will be one of the important ways we can promote local wines,” says Ievers.