In the past five years, gin sales have grown 151% in South Africa.
Global (26 June 2020) – This week on Marketplace Africa, CNN International’s Eleni Giokos examines South Africa’s gin industry, a sector that was booming before it was hit by coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
In the past five years, gin sales have grown 151% in South Africa. When Lorna Scott started her company Inverroche Gin in 2011, there were only two artisanal gin distilleries in the country. She talks about the increase since then, “It has been quite extraordinary the explosion of gins that followed our success story.”
However, this thriving industry was halted in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The South African government instated a lockdown which included banning the sale, production and export of alcohol. Scott describes how this lockdown affected the industry, “It was an overnight disaster. You know, our industry in its entirety came to a halt. So, the sales were booming, and we had orders pending for export, and we could do absolutely nothing.”
Many producers have adapted their businesses to help during the crisis. SABMiller VP Zoleka Lisa tells Giokos how they’ve pivoted their production, “We’re recycling beer crates to produce face shields for health workers. Our procurement teams, we’ve decided to repurpose them, and they are helping the South African government in terms of leveraging their skills to source PPE as well as medical equipment.”
Scott has also been using her excess stock to aid the healthcare community.
She explains, “We then decided to use our gin spirits and started producing sanitiser, which we donated to all of the frontline workers in Hessequa. That was one positive thing that we could do with the alcohol that we had available that we weren’t allowed to turn into gin.”
Giokos also speaks to husband and wife team Les and Paula Ansley who use a unique ingredient to make their gin – elephant dung. Les explains the reasoning, “Elephants eat only plants and leaves. The dung is so fresh that you can squeeze it and drink the water out of it in situations in the bush if you need water.”
As lockdowns ease, the gin industry in South Africa is slowly opening up. Zoleka Lisa is hopeful for the future.
“I think we need to be observant. We need to be agile, and we’re going to need to adapt and innovate. I’m a little bit excited but daunted by not knowing what is to come, but I think there are some great opportunities that will come from this crisis.”
‘Marketplace Africa’ airs on Friday 26th June at 18h45 SAST on CNN International
The show also airs at the following times:
- Saturday 27th June at 18h15 SAST
- Sunday 28th June at 01h00 SAST, 05h00 SAST and 09h15 SAST
- Monday 29th June at 04h00 SAST and 19h45 SAST