Virus of the prohibition of alcohol causes headaches for S. African winemakers

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Wellington (South Africa) (AFP)

Wineries around the Cape of fear of a nine-week alcohol sales prohibition to leave a bad hangover that lasts all coronavirus pandemic, South Africa’s bottles lose their spots international shelves and thousands of jobs are lost.

Africa’s most industrialized economy of components of the liquor stores at the beginning of a strict anti-coronavirus lockdown on the 27th of March, in order to limit the spread of COVID-19, and reduce the pressure on busy hospital emergency departments.

The controversy of the alcohol ban was lifted on 1 June, in the framework of a gradual easing of the containment measures to limit the economic hardship of the pandemic.

But the producers of wine in the valleys of South Africa, Western Cape province are concerned, the industry will struggle to rebound.

The prohibition of sale of alcohol has been coupled with a period of six weeks from the export gel — concerned buyers may turn to suppliers in other countries, if the application abroad, has not been quickly achieved.

“We were the only country in the world where wine exports were not allowed,” said Boyce Lloyd, chief executive of South Africa’s top wine and spirits producer KWV.

Lloyd said the buyers in the main importing countries such as Canada, Finland and Sweden withdrew the bottles that do not meet a minimum rate of sales.

“When you don’t have stock on the shelf obviously, you can’t record a sale and then you get delisted,” he said.

“It is a very real risk that we face. ”

– Deletions and delays –

The Nabygelegen wine cellar in the south of the city of Wellington, owner of James Mckenzie said international buyers grew nervous about ” putting all its eggs in the same basket “.

“They are now looking to the import of other countries’ wines in the case where there is a new problem, ” Mckenzie told AFP. “These are long-term decisions that can affect us over the next few years. ”

The risk of being delisted has been exacerbated by delays in the ports due to coronavirus outbreaks among staff.

The Western Cape is the hot spot in the South Africa of the epidemic, with more than half of the 92,681 case.

Port of cape town staff members have not been spared.

“What we have been seeing in the last couple of weeks, it is the big hold-up at the port terminal,” said Wines of South Africa spokesperson Maryna Calow, non-profit organization that promotes the export of wines. “They are currently running about a 50% capacity “.

Only 55 percent of KWV wine exported this month was arrived on time, down from the usual 90 percent, according to Lloyd.

Delays could be as long as three weeks, he added.

The closing of the South Africa, the borders and the locks around the world have also made it difficult for wine producers to the import of packaging material.

“I’m talking about cork in Portugal, the glass of Europe,” Calow said. “There is a significant delay and book from there. ”

During this time, the cellars of rupture with the unsold barrels of wine could cause a fall of the price in bulk, due to the overabundance of supply by the end of the year.

The combined effect could be devastating to South Africa’s famous wine industry, which employs about 300 000 people.

– Glimmer of hope –

“We’re estimating about 18 000 jobs lost due to… the prohibition of the sale of alcohol,” Calow said, adding that 80 percent of the wine cellars, was likely to close their doors in the long term.

A dark scenario that could be aggravated by the acceleration of the spread of the coronavirus, South Africa hurtles towards an expected peak of infection in the month of July.

All confirmed cases forces a winery to cease all activity for at least one day of the disinfection of the premises and isolate the contacts.

Lloyd estimated the company lost between 10 and 15 percent of the production time of over three weeks.

Suppliers of cartons and labels are also affected.

“So you might be waiting for some raw materials, to arrive today for the packaging of tomorrow, and you receive a call from the supplier saying that they are affected by COVID. ”

A glimmer of hope has been a spike in online wine sales, which skyrocketed after the alcohol sales ban was lifted.

But the courier companies have struggled to keep up.

“People have not had access to alcohol for two months, then you have to deal with a large accumulation of orders,” said Lloyd.

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