18-08-2015

Ivory Coast, now Spain’s #1 export market in Africa

Naturally when one thinks about African wine, one thinks only about South African but of course that’s not the only chapter in the book as there are wines produced in North Africa as well as other countries such as Zimbabwe. But, when it comes to wine drinking where does one think it happens it Africa? Most people have no idea and would probably again say that it was a South Africa thing because that seems to be the de facto answer to any Africa question in the US and Europe.

I don’t have all the facts and figures across the continent as I have a lot to do other than keep up on a billion people’s habits. Apparently though, when it comes to Spanish wine consumption, the biggest spender is Nigeria but the biggest in terms of import volume is Ivory Coast to the tune of 140 million liters annually which is nearly 6% of Spain’s total yearly output. Who would have guessed? Well, I might have to a certain degree.

For anyone who hasn’t been there, Ivory Coast (as well as Ghana for that matter) is not some primitive jungle of a country. Sure, you can still catch malaria and other tropical diseases there but when it comes to Ivory Coast, the French Colony period left a lasting impression. In some ways this isn’t so great as everyone has to a large degree ditched their mother languages to all speak French. In other ways it’s good as while living there, I found the best croissants and baguettes outside of France. There is also a healthy wine culture.

The supermarkets in Abidjan had a quite excellent selection on all fronts. Crap, you could buy French cheeses there for less than what they cost in California. But the wine section was well-stocked with a broad range of French wines. So, it comes as no surprise that the import of Spanish wines has grown considerably given that lower-end French wines simply can’t compete on quality with what you find in Spain and it’s quite clear that this is what’s being imported as some 90% of the volume is bulk wine that is made without Denomination of Origin certification.

Beyond the price, I think the typical dishes of roasted chicken as well as other spicy meats are actually a better companion to Spanish wine than to French so in the end, everyone wins.