On the ground in South Africa
14 Jul 2016
South Africa is a significant market for Scotch Whisky - the
sixth largest by volume, with more than 50 million bottles shipped
there last year.
It was therefore worthwhile to recently travel to Cape Town and
Johannesburg with Sarah Dickson, SWA director of global affairs, to
build up our first-hand knowledge of the market.
A recent decline in Scotch exports reflects some economic and
political challenges South Africa is facing. Issues include, a
downturn in GDP growth, high unemployment rates and political
problems stemming from some social discontent and uncertainty
around the upcoming municipal elections in August.
We spent two days at the foot of Table Mountain meeting local
companies, South African-based SWA members and government
We spoke with MPs from both the leading parties - the ANC and
the Democratic Alliance. Their perspectives on the role of our
industry as a provider of jobs, and a supplier of an aspirational
product to an important market, were encouraging.
The politicians invited ideas on how we could evolve our
contribution on issues, such as the national alcohol policy
framework, and share our experience in tackling alcohol misuse -
both of which we will gladly do.
This spirit of collaboration was repeated in Johannesburg. Here
the British High Commission in Pretoria, along with the Consulate
in Cape Town, must be commended for their help in arranging events
and meetings with high profile Treasury and Trade Department
officials, the Minister for Tourism and the Mayor of Johannesburg.
Conversations held during these meetings all confirmed South
Africa's position and growing potential as one of our industry's
largest trade partners.
This potential - not to mention the 21 degree Celsius blazing
'winter' sunshine - reinforces our intentions to travel to South
Africa and the wider African continent again to investigate the
challenges and opportunities for Scotch Whisky.
Helena Mumdzjana is manager of Africa Market Access at the
Scotch Whisky Association