An exploration of taste in Cape Town


The event calendar for autumn bears testament to Cape Town and the Western Cape’s rich food and wine offering. Taste of Cape Town, the Good Food and Wine Show, Gugulethu Wine Festival, SA Cheese Festival, Prince Albert Olive Festival, Riebeek Valley Olive Festival, and Wacky Wine Festival are only a slice of food and wine events served up to locals and visitors at this time of year.

Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in South Africa Marthinus van Schalkwyk spoke at a wine industry workshop at Spier Wine Estate on April 18, saying: “Increasing its revenue from tourism can help the South African wine industry to offset international volatility caused by, amongst others, currency and demand fluctuations. Wine and gourmet tourism, which includes the enjoyment of food and wines, can also play a role in terms of our goal of increasing the geographic spread of tourism in South Africa, as it provides additional options for tourists.”

Food tourism is defined by Hall and Sharples (2004;10) as “the visitation to primary and secondary food producers, food festivals, restaurants, and specific locations for which food tasting and/or experiencing the attributes of specialist food production regions are the motivation for travel.”

This definition does ask for a distinction to be made between incidental food tourists – those people who consume food as part of the travel experience – and motivated food tourists, whose selection of a destination, their activities and behavior at the destination is strongly influenced by their interest in food. Specialists would further subdivide the term “food tourism” into niches related to their level of interest, such as culinary, gastronomic, cuisine, or gourmet tourism.

Research on the profile of food tourists, as opposed to wine tourists, is scarce and often focuses on the United States of America (USA), Australia, or New Zealand, where most of the research is being conducted. The Cuisine and Wine Interest Index as shown by Hall (2004;65) was created by Lang Research, and information gathered related to cuisine revealed that, in terms of their demographics, the high interest groups from Canada and the USA were likely to include:

– Young couples (married or living in common law, 18 to 35 years of age with no children at home

– Mature couples (married or living in common law, 36 to 65 years of age with no children under 21 years of age living at home

They were likely to have advanced university degrees and income levels exceeding C$80 000 in 2001. In the USA specifically, mature singles (unmarried, between the ages of 36 and 65, no children under 21 years of age living at home) also featured.

Tourism Victoria in Australia used the Roy Morgan Value Segments model (Hall et al; 71) to segment visitors to Victoria who would be more likely to consider food and wine during the decision-making process. Their findings indicated that the “Socially Aware” and “Visible Achiever” segments were more likely to be motivated by food and wine offerings.

Individuals from the “Socially Aware” segment are likely to be:

– Tertiary educated
– Employed in a professional or managerial capacity
– Public servants, politicians, and researchers
– Attracted to things new and innovative
– “Learning a living” rather than earning a living
– Seeking education and knowledge

Individuals from the “Visible Achiever” segment are likely to be:

– Around 40 years of age
– Wealth creators
– Committed to traditional values about home, work, and society
– Working for financial reward and job stimulation
– Looking for quality and value for money
– Directly interested in public affairs, the economy and politics

These are also extremely lucrative market characteristics for tourism in general, be it international or domestic, and pursuing a greater understanding of who South African’s food tourists are will be tantamount for destination marketing and using food tourism to drive regional development.