Coronavirus and SA wine: Bruwer Raats of Raats Family Wines
By Christian Eedes, 13 May 2020
The current conversation around Coronavirus and its effect on the South African wine industry is perhaps inevitably very emotionally charged.
We put the same set of questions to a variety of industry stakeholders with a view to obtaining a better understanding of what’s happening on the ground and also plotting a way forward. Here is how Bruwer Raats of Raats Family Wines, B Vintners and MR de Compostella replied:
How badly has Coronavirus crisis impacted your business?
It feels like someone is putting his hands around your neck and pushing you up the wall and then joking with you as well without any apparent logic behind it. While having a smile on his face. They closed down all our sales channels, including exports that had no effect on the spread of the virus. Although they have opened exports again, the ports are operating on skeleton staff with a big backlog and exports are not moving fast.
How many wineries do you foresee closing as a result of the pandemic? What future for growers?
If wineries don’t have an income they can’t pay their growers and I see a lot of wineries and growers going out of business in an already unprofitable and marginalised industry.
What plans do you have in place to get going again once restrictions are eased? How will doing business be different?
We have an online shop on our website and we have focused a lot of time and attention through social media to drive people to buy from us online. I think a lot of business will be done online in future and that will apply to all industries.
What will the South African wine landscape look like after the pandemic? Will the industry recover quickly or will it be changed forever?
Export based companies will recover the quickest. Wineries that were more focused on local based sales will recover slowly and I foresee that the traditional distributors/agents taking a very long time to recover – they supply the hospitality industry who are in danger of not surviving at all.