Fairtrade wine sales are booming overseas – up 27% last year to 21 million litres, the overwhelming majority (two thirds) from SA in the shape of iconic brands such as
- Place in the Sun, http://www.placeinthesun.co.za/
- Fairview’s Goats do Roam, http://www.fairview.co.za/goats-do-roam/
- De Bos, http://bosmanwines.com/
- Earthbound (organic), http://www.earthboundwines.co.za/
- House of Mandela Thembu Collection, http://houseofmandela.com/
- Thandi Wines (1st Fairtrade wine in the world), http://www.thandiwines.com/
- Palesa, http://www.uniwines.co.za/the-wines/palesa/
Yet locally, sales growth lags, up only 12.5% to 345,000 litres or less than 2% of the foreign tally. This in spite of Pick ‘n Pay putting its retail muscle behind the brand. The reason is likely inadequate marketing to SA consumers of the ethical positioning of the brand and perhaps even more importantly, marketing to SA hotels and restaurants who account for less than a third of Fairtrade wines sold. Strange, as these outlets service the booming tourist market who may be more susceptible to ethical wine than hard-pressed SA consumers, who buy mainly on price.
Indeed only 7% of South Africans recognize the Fairtrade logo and this is probably on account of coffee whose sales of R38 million dwarf the R24 million spent on wine. When will WIETA and Fairtrade bury the hatchet? It is totally ridiculous for a third world raw materials-based economysuch as South Africa has, to have the luxury of two competing ethical trading initiatives. With WIETA inventor Su Birch now lifted rudely from the WOSA cushions and her power base disconnected, surely an amalgamation is possible? Or is it all about egos, directors fees and power for directors at the expense of poor and voiceless farmworkers? It sure looks that way.