Winetech Vision 2020

Friday, 28 July, 2000
Jan Booysens
SA Wine industry gearing up for renewal
The South African wine industry is preparing specific action for renewal to accelerate its expansion in international markets. This was the central message at a recent conference of stakeholders in the wine industry held at Nederburg in Paarl, where Winetech Vision2020 presented preliminary findings of a study on alternative future scenarios for the wine industry. Delegates to the conference overwhelmingly expressed the need for a shared vision of a new highly competitive SA wine industry, and for strategies to build a strong ‘Brand South Africa’ that will help the industry to compete more effectively in an increasingly competitive market. Winetech, a non-profit association founded two years ago to co-ordinate research, development, training and technology transfer, took the initiative in June 1999 by establishing Vision2020, a wine industry project supported by the major players in the industry including the national departments of Agriculture, and Trade and Industry. The purpose of the Vision2020 project is to shape a shared vision for the SA wine industry through consultation and research; to obtain support and commitment for an achievable goal that will embody the vision in practical terms; and to develop a design for the strategic renewal of the SA wine industry to attain this goal. At the conference, futures study specialist Prof. Philip Spies, project leader of Vision 2020, reported on the programme of inquiry that commenced in June 1999. The first phase, which was completed in December 1999, determined the nature of the strategic problems in the industry, collected relevant information and involved experts in the debate on the future of the wine industry. The second phase, which will be completed at the end of June 2000, is aimed at identifying future directions and strategic options, as well as involving experts in discussions around new strategies. The third phase, to be completed by November 2000, will present a vision for a new SA wine industry and present strategies for renewal. These will be jointly developed with stakeholders in the industry during extensive planning conferences such as the one held at Nederburg last week. The basis of the Vision 2020 inquiry is to optimize the wine industry value chain, from terroir to the customer. This means best practices both within and between the links in the value chain – such as best viticultural practices in support of best wine making practices, the aim being to produce wines that will satisfy the market. The inquiry also covers a study of the global industry patterns, and the socio-political environment within which the industry operates. Delegates at the conference gave their support for the Vision2020 initiatives including proposals to change from a production driven industry to a market driven one. Positive feedback was also given around a separate and focused approach towards the management of the three sectors within the industry, namely wine, brandy and grape-base products. Various other strategies including an audit of natural resources for terroir-based production, human resources development, ethical practices, affirmative action, technology transfer, world-best practice and quality standards, branding, market intelligence and world-class logistics were discussed. The sense of urgency to renew the SA wine industry was emphasized in a statement by one of the delegates: ‘The time has come for all the players in the SA wine industry to pull together as a team. We have achieved some remarkable results on an individual basis but working together as a team will create long-term advantages by bringing all our local talent together in a powerful unified force on the international playing field.’ Supplied by Jan Booysen, e-mail