Vinpro welcomes partially lifted alcohol ban, but long-term sustainability remains a priority

Tuesday, 2 February, 2021
Vinpro
The wine industry body Vinpro is pleased that wine businesses can start trading again now that the third ban on local liquor sales is lifted, but will continue prioritising various actions to improve the industry's long-term sustainability.

Wine businesses have not been able to earn any income from local wine sales for a total of 20 weeks since March 2020, which led to an overall loss of more than R8 billion in direct sales revenue and still threatens the survival of cellars, wine grape producers and the livelihoods of 27 000 employees in the wine industry value-chain.

“Opening up wine sales for home consumption from Monday to Thursday, as well as wine cellars for consumption in restaurants and tasting rooms throughout the week and on weekends will help restore some of the local wine sales revenue to more sustainable levels,” says Vinpro MD Rico Basson. “While we are glad that businesses can once again earn much-needed revenue, a long and difficult road to recovery lies ahead for wine-related businesses and it is even too late for some businesses.”

As a priority, Vinpro will build on various actions the organisation has focused on over the past 10 months. “We must first ensure that our industry is not again switched on and off nationwide like a light switch by government, regardless of variation in Covid-19 status in the respective provinces.”

The organisation will therefore go ahead with the court application that was launched in the Cape High Court on 27 January 2021, seeking relief which would afford the Premier of the Western Cape the power to adopt deviations to enable off- and on-consumption sale of liquor in the province. Ultimately similar relief will be sought in respect of the other provinces.

“Covid-19 remains a serious reality that endangers the lives and livelihoods of South Africans. We as an industry are committed to proactively implementing preventative measures from farm level to retail to protect employees, consumers and broader wine industry communities. Furthermore, we will continue to participate in discussions around a risk-adjusted approach to open up the economy even further, and ensure that it remains open,” says Basson.

Vinpro remains committed to finalising a social compact, which includes other liquor sectors, government and civil society, to collaboratively find more sustainable solutions to social problems around alcohol abuse and to change behaviour over the long term. “Vinpro and our members strive towards the responsible cultivation, production, marketing, sale and consumption of our products, for which we have received global recognition,” says Basson.

“We will continue to turn to government for financial relief to protect the livelihoods of our 533 wineries, 2 778 wine grape producers and 269 000 employees in the wine industry value chain,” says Basson.

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