Coronavirus and SA wine: Johan Kruger of Kruger Family Wines
By Christian Eedes, 9 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 Johan Kruger of Kruger Family Wines replied:
How badly has Coronavirus crisis impacted your business?
We have been blessed in many ways. We had some delays with the fulfilment of export orders for [online wine retailer] Naked Wines, but now have everything back on track, which means we have to get one month’s work done in little over a week! The good news is that we had five weeks to rest and plan ahead, so it’s good to now use that much saved-up energy. Unfortunately, local sales are suffering, which is very sad for all involved, but we look onward and upward and believe everything will get better week for week from now on and hope and pray that the demand created in this time will make up in a good part for sales lost, once local sales can commence.
How many wineries do you foresee closing as a result of the pandemic?
Hopefully none – we are a tough nation and I believe in the old saying: “`n boer maak `n plan” – we will all get through this, as we have in past crises.
What plans do you have in place to get going again once restrictions are eased? How will doing business be different?
With regards to local sales, we’ll support our customers as well as we can to help them get up and running again. As for export, I foresee a lot of travelling to support our importers, once this is allowed again. Naked Wines has had amazing sales online as have our importers in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and Japan, so it is important to build and support that side of the business.
What will the South African wine landscape look like after the pandemic? Will the industry recover quickly or will it be changed forever?
This pandemic has been hugely alienating on one level with social distancing, no travels, lockdown and all these “safety measures” but in turn, families spent more time together, we communicated more with loved ones and close friends and colleagues from all over the world via the internet, which would never have happened otherwise. A proper boomerang effect. People have gotten closer in my experience and I hope and pray this is the same for our industry!