Podcast: Tasting Loxtonia crisp apple cider.

cider pix
A lovely cider

Remaining in the Cape, but moving from grapes to apples, our tasting team tackled the Loxtonia crisp apple cider, which came as a revelation.

Guru to the philosopher Epicurius Michael Olivier introduced it to writer and analyst Chris Gilmour, economist Mike Schussler and Gumtree auto’s Jeff Osborne, while John Fraser sipped and purred.

Take a bite out of the podcast, by clicking below:

Wine podcast tasting: Sijnn Red 2015

Sijnn pic
In-Sijnn-ly delicious

Cape Winemaster and slave to the grape Debi van Flymen introduces a stunner red from the Cape –  the Sijnn Red 2015, which is a blend.

Slurping away are tasters: food and wine guru Michael Olivier, Economist Chris Hart, Brander Jeremy Sampson, and IT superstar Malcolm MacDonald.

John Fraser keeps thing moving with his usual elegance, charm and brilliant puns.

Click below, and enjoy:




Streamed music and digital images have driven the comeback of vinyl and printed photos

Larina Marina via Shutterstock

Renaud Foucart, Lancaster University

The resurgence of vinyl records in a time of digital music and streaming is a story of how innovation can make technological comebacks possible. In the summer of 2019, the sales of vinyl albums are on the verge of becoming the largest source of revenue from physical sales in the music industry. This follows 15 years of an upward trend – today, while remaining a niche product, the vinyl record may well eventually survive to be the only analogue medium for music, as the sales of CD continue their downward spiral.

Researchers in sociology and consumer culture have shown how this trend goes well beyond nostalgia – buyers of vinyl are attracted by its status as an object, its physical presence. This attraction matters, even more, today, as most of the time listening to a song does not involve buying physical support anymore.

Read more: Back on record – the reasons behind vinyl’s unlikely comeback

Our study starts with this vinyl comeback. We try to show how it is precisely the process of innovation, in which a new product or technology replaces an outdated one, that opens the possibility for an even older and obsolete product or technology to become relevant again.

To do so, we need to go back to the late 1980s, when sales of compact discs outsold vinyl records for the first time (in 1988), and then the sales of cassettes (in 1993). In 1998, vinyl represented only 0.7% of the total music industry revenues.

Three generations of recorded sound. HK-PHOTOGRAPHY via Shutterstock

Why did consumers start to abandon vinyl and cassettes? Because compact discs are more resistant to scratches. Because they are simply more practical, easier to store, and easier to switch to the song you want to listen to. Because compact discs were sold to them as of superior sound quality: they can, in theory, emulate the sound of vinyl to a sampling rate indistinguishable from the original to the human ear while being able to reproduce more extreme frequencies (purists disagree).

Three decades later, digital music has replaced compact discs. In the US, the streaming industry accounts for 80% of music industry revenues. Looking back at the criteria that made the vinyl obsolete, the current streaming technology outperforms compact discs in every dimension: high sound quality and no scratches or storage problems.

The only characteristic on which the compact disc can compete is its physical presence – some people want to possess an object they can touch and display in their home. But on this dimension, it seems vinyl is doing much better than compact discs. Hence, people attracted by the object are more likely to buy vinyl to complement their digital consumption.

The music industry and vinyl retailers have well understood the importance of that dimension. Recent new and re-releases of vinyl incorporate special features which play up the attractions of buying vinyl. Heavyweight vinyl pressing suggests the importance of the musical content. The same holds for coloured vinyl or other special features such as cover art posters.

Predators and prey

This is a story of predators and prey – and is not unique to the music industry. Once the appearance of new technology leads to the extinction of the previous one, it can be interesting to look at what existed before. Some of the characteristics of a long-extinct technology may have become relevant again now that the predator has disappeared. The key is then to identify how to emphasise these characteristics to the old format work alongside the new format.

Making a comeback? Polaroid cameras. Savanevich Viktar via Shutterstock

In the photography industry, the first generation of analogue films has been almost entirely replaced by the second generation of digital cameras. A third-generation, based on smartphones and social networks, was not originally designed for physical printing.

As more and more consumers now use the third-generation, abandoning digital cameras – according to data by the Camera and Imaging Product Association, shipments of digital cameras have decreased by more than 60% between 2010 and 2019 – the physical dimension of analogue photography seems to have become a useful complement. As a result, photography on film has started to return as a niche product – and discontinued products such as Kodak’s Ektachrome or Fujifilm’s black and white films are being reintroduced.

Some consumers, who had abandoned products of the first generation start using them again as a complement to the third one. As in the case of vinyl recordings, the industry has well understood the demand for tangible photography, beyond simply reverting to old cameras. Polaroid is soon to release a “Lab” to print analogue pictures of images taken on smartphones. Fujifilm’s Instax, meanwhile, offers the possibility to print a format similar to Polaroid based on digital pictures.

Not every comeback is possible. Many products and technologies disappear because they have nothing useful to bring anymore. But when a new product or technology starts dominating a market, it may be a good idea to look at what existed two or three generations before. This may well prove to be part of the future – even if it’s just a small one.

Renaud Foucart is Senior Lecturer, Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University

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Podcast: De Grendel Rubaiyat 2015…and cheese.

De-Grendel-Rubaiyat-NV (1)

Once again, the ZA Confidential podcast panel is on the rampage, this time tasting a red blend from the Cape – the De Grendel Rubaiyat 2015.

Gastronomic glutton Michael Olivier introduces the wine to Grapeslave’s Debi van Flymen, economist Chris Hart, brander Jeremy Sampson, and Clientele’s Malcolm Macdonald.

Having glugged the wine, the panel has a long discussion about the wonders of cheese, and the need to get a better distribution system for the many superb South African cheeses

Click below, and take a listen:

Podcast Tasting: The Fledge Riesling 2018

Fledge Riesling pix

Though Riesling is not a common varietal in SA, our tasting team decided to tackle The Fledge & Co Jikken Bareru 2018 Riesling, a small-production wine from the Cape Winelands.

Cape Wine Master and Grape Slave Debi van Flymen and Manmetdiepan Michael Olivier shared their expertise with a guest panel of economist Chris Hart, Malcolm MacDonald from Clientele and branding consultant Jeremy Sampson, while John Fraser smiled and sipped, purring gently.

Click below to give it a listen…..

What’s the beef about bacon?

Coming to an outlet near you?

By John Fraser

Thank you, Burger King, for having saved my bacon.

For some time I have been grumbling that the Halaal designation of this burger chain, which I regard as far superior to its fast-food rivals, has meant no bacon in the burgers.

This is annoying to those of us who believe that no religious group should dictate what, where or when we eat.

So bravo to BK for announcing that bacon will be introduced in some of their SA restaurants.

They will also be making an effort to expand their Halaal offerings.

Don’t get me wrong.  If someone wishes to avoid bacon on the basis of some archaic religious dietary laws which were adopted by ignorant middle-eastern nomads many centuries before the hamburger came into being, then I am happy to let this happen.

As long this absurd rationing is not imposed on me.

Meanwhile, one development which I find bizarre and ludicrous is the decision that in future BK won’t call its hamburgers ’hamburgers’.

Nope, they will now be called burgers – on the outrageous grounds that they contain no ham.

That may be true, but shepherd’s pie contains no shepherd (I hope).  Ratatouille contains no rat.  Toad in the hole is toad-free.  And don’t get me started on cumquats.

To try to lean so far backwards in attempting to avoid offence that you could win a limbo competition….seems bizarre.

I think the only thing that will calm my frazzled nerves is a good hamburger.  With extra bacon.

This may condemn me to damnation, but at least this condemned man’s last meal will be bloody delicious.

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Auto sector continues to enjoy Patel’s patronage

Ebrahim Patel

By John Fraser

Minister Ebrahim Patel has nailed his colours to the mast in supporting the SA auto sector and has promised a deeper partnership.

He made his remarks to a recent conference on the auto industry and innovation, which was held at Kyalami and hosted by the auto manufacturers’ association NAAMSA.

The conference was warned that there is a rapid change in the industry, brought on by leaps in technology, but there remains a lot of uncertainty.

Patel, who heads the recently enlarged Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, spoke of “a shift to a different gear in engagement with industry.”

He said technology will reshape how cars are produced, how cars are powered, how cars are driven, how cars are owned, and how cars are connected.

Government recently endorsed a Masterplan to chart the development of the auto industry, with key aims of doubling production and boosting local content to 60%.

“We require a flexible Masterplan, with agile manufacturers, workers who can continuously reskill,” he said.  “7% of SA’s GDP is contributed by the auto industry.”

Areas where there will be a deeper partnership between government and the auto sector should include growing new markets, especially in Africa, with the new continental free trade area (AfCFTA) being the “biggest game-changer.”

Turning to innovation, Patel spoke of rapid developments in batteries and other advances.

“This is quite a profound shift from the internal combustion engine to vehicle electronics”, he suggested.

He spoke of this transition to electric vehicles as a major opportunity for SA, and he said manufacturers must not wait for a consumer market to grow before moving to electric vehicle production in SA, as the export market is growing fast.

As part of the government’s support for the auto sector, it is planning an auto-suppliers’ Special Economic Zone in Tshwane.

One of the architects of the auto masterplan, Douglas Comrie of B&M Analysts, said this is the most significant manufacturing sector in SA, and the stakes are quite high.

He said there is twice as much investment by the big car makers in electrification and shared vehicles as is going into actual manufacturing.

He said future changes are daunting, and we must evaluate what is within our control.

SA still needs an institution to coordinate, monitor and evaluate support for the auto sector, but we have yet to see significant progress on this.

There is tremendous uncertainty over technology and skills development.

The head of Toyota in SA Andrew Kirby, who is also the President of Naamsa, said the industry’s 6.9% share of GDP is significant.

He stressed the need to support local suppliers, including smaller firms, and to bring in the latest technologies.

“The auto industry developed a five-year business plan to 2023 on volume, investment, local content, transformation, and to deal with technology,” he said.

“Last year we made 610 000 units; current plans are to rise to 800 00 units – a significant increase.”

In the next few years, local content will increase from 39% to 42%, resulting in R12.6bn in additional value produced in SA.

An extra 16 000 jobs will be created, mostly in the component sector.  With a multiplier effect, this rises to 46 000.

There will be new investment by manufacturers of R40bn in the next 5 years, some of which will be used to develop black-owned components firms.

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Wine tasting: De Wetshof Naissance CS 2017

Sipping, slurping and spitting away, we launch another ZA Confidential wine tasting podcast, with the 2017 De Wetshof Naissance Cabernet Sauvignon.

Gastronome and glugging guru Michael Olivier introduces the Cape Red to Clientele’s Malcolm MacDonald, brander Jeremy Sampson, economist Chris Hart and Cape Wine Master Debi van Flymen from Grapeslave.

Then the panel has a chat on the wonders of wine tourism.

Click below to take a listen….

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Do also check out http://www.michaelolivier.com

Top economist warns of SA being trampled by trade war elephants, the US and China

Ctrack SA - Mike Schussler_Logistics Barometer 2Mike Schussler

By John Fraser

Top economist Mike Schussler has warned that the fallout from the US-China trade war could trample emerging economies like SA.

He was speaking at the release of the new Ctrack Logistics Barometer, which will provide a unique insight into the health and development of the transport/logistics sector in SA.

He said he is already detecting ripples from the global trade unrest.

“You can see the volatility of international trade at sea in particular,” said Schussler, who heads economists.co.za.

“Suppliers like SA are like grass in an elephant fight when the two big elephants fight – when the US and China are in a trade conflict.

“The Hong Kong protests add another complexity, and the Brexit divorce will also have an impact.”

Schussler explained that it has been many years since he compiled a Transport Barometer for Transnet, but said that his monthly data will again ensure the transport and logistics sector will be properly measured and tracked.

“When we measure it, it is 8.2% of GDP,” he said.   “It is as big as mining; bigger than agriculture.”

He also noted the key role the sector plays in keeping trade and the economy flowing.

“The Ctrack Logistics Barometer is our way of providing the transport and related sectors with quality, updated information about the state of the logistics industry in South Africa,” said Hein Jordt, managing director of Ctrack South Africa.

“The barometer allows the business community and media to better understand how the logistics industry in South Africa is performing. With this information, businesses involved in the sector are able to make better strategic decisions.”

C track image

The Ctrack Logistics Barometer can be viewed online at http://www.ctrack.co.za.

As the above table shows, the maiden Ctrack Logistics Barometer shows that for the July quarter, the sector rose by 2.7% Q/Q – above the average GDP growth rate.

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Podcast tasting: Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut 2016


And we are back……..

ZA Confidential tackles another Cape bubbly, this time the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut 2016.

Michael Olivier pops the cork for Cape Wine Master Debi van Flymen,  brander Jeremy Sampson, economist Chris Hart, and Clientele’s Malcolm MacDonald.

Then John Fraser leads a discussion into the way restaurant wine mark-ups can leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

Click below, and give it a listen:

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