The South African alcohol industry is committed to a partnership with Government to address the societal challenges linked to alcohol abuse and its impact on the health sector and cautions against further restrictions in sales.
The alcohol industry has been engaging continuously with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and over the past week, has had engagements with the EC Premier and Liquor Authority as well as the Western Cape MEC for safety. In addition, the industry has reached out to the Gauteng Premier and awaits a response in this regard.
The alcohol industry, comprising the South African Liquor Brandowners’ Association (SALBA), the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA), VinPro, Liquor Traders Association of South Africa (LTASA) and the Liquor Traders Council of South Africa (LTCSA) pointed out that a further ban on sales would affect up to 1 million people that are part of the liquor industry value chain.
After an initial liquor stock-up that lasted two weeks, liquor sales have started slowing recently and the share of spend has dropped to below what it was last year.
SALBA CEO Kurt Moore said that, “As an industry we are deeply concerned about the surge of COVID-19 infections, however any additional restriction on sales, including an outright ban, shorter trading hours or further restrictions on trading, would likely increase panic buying and overcrowding at retail outlets, which would increase the risk of transmission of the virus. In addition to the increased transmission risk, a further restriction in sales would have a disastrous economic impact on the industry and continue to exacerbate the loss of excise revenue.”
“Further restricting the legal trade of alcohol would fuel the growth in the illicit liquor market, which does not comply with the measures implemented by the industry and would lead to further irresponsible consumption of alcohol,” Moore added.
Vinpro CEO Rico Basson added, “Across the value chain, the alcohol industry has prioritised the safety of its workforce and consumers by implementing safety and social distancing measures. We continue to maintain our commitments and undertakings around safety measures, responsible trading, and the promotion of responsible consumption. Through our industry partnerships we have leveraged the alcohol industry’s extensive distribution and retail networks nationwide to supply much needed PPE and hand sanitisers in support of government’s efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
Convener of the Liquor Traders Council Lucky Ntimane said, “Our network of some 34,000 taverners across the country have been supported through partnerships with industry and this has have included the development and implementation of innovations such as the various “click-and-collect” apps. These apps were launched country-wide across retailers and tavern owners to help reduce queues, improve social distancing and make it safer for consumers to order and collect their purchases.”
BASA CEO Patricia Pillay said, “We are all in this fight together and as an industry we are committed to working with Government to find solutions which includes prioritising lives and safeguarding livelihoods across the sector during this pandemic, whilst ensuring that we adhere to safety, responsible trading, and the sensible consumption of alcohol.”
Issued by FTI Consulting on behalf of the Liquor Industry
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