Raise a Glass to Fair Trade Wine: 2009 Wine Impact Report
Wine is one of the most popular beverages on the planet – people around the world consume it both on their couches and in swanky restaurants, and entire organizations are devoted to discussing its many varieties. But how many consumers actually think about the work that goes into making a bottle wine?stellar-wine-bottles
Wine production is an extremely labor-intensive process, and several unique aspects of the wine industry lead to poor living conditions for many producers. There is a typically a short turnaround time between the harvest of wine grapes and the grapes’ conversion to wine, and the lack of mechanization in the industry makes production time-consuming and strenuous. As a result, even grape farmers and winery workers who have spent decades in the wine business often work in poor conditions and face economic struggles at home.
However, the development of Fair Trade standards for wine (both for hired labor and for small producers in the wine industry) has brought hope to these farmers and workers. TransFair USA began certifying Fair Trade wine in 2008 and saw immediate success, with cumulative U.S. imports of Fair Trade Certified wine reaching 1.7 million bottles in 2009. The current sources of Fair Trade Certified wine in the U.S. are Argentina, Chile and South Africa. Below, we give you a look at how Fair Trade wine is making a difference for producers.
Fair Trade Standards for Wine: Because the wine industry encompasses both small producing organizations and large wineries, there are Fair Trade standards for both sides of the business. Under Fair Trade, large wineries must provide their workers with fair wages, good labor conditions and the opportunity to join unions, and they must comply with health and safety measures to protect workers’ safety. For cooperatives or associations of small producers (who harvest grapes on their own vineyards), Fair Trade standards establish fair prices and mandate equal profit distribution among members. Fair Trade promotes community development that benefits both hired laborers and small producers by paying a premium for every kilogram of Fair Trade Certified grapes sold, and a democratic assembly of the farmers or workers determines how to invest the premium.
What Fair Trade Prices and Social Premiums Do: In 2009, U.S. sales of Fair Trade wine generated almost $115,000 in social premiums for producing communities in Argentina, Chile and South Africa. These communities have put the money to good use. Some examples of projects that communities have developed with social premiums include the building of a community hospital, a women-run coffeeshop, a free health insurance program, the donation of shoes to schoolchildren and a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Furthermore, individuals and families have benefited greatly from increased income and the benefits that cooperatives provide.
“I have been a contratista all my life but income has barely been enough to feed my family. Now we get a guaranteed minimum price for our grapes and help with healthcare and education.”- Omar Algarañaz, a member of the Viñasol cooperative in Argentina
With the Fair Trade wine market expanding (U.S. sales increased fourfold from 2008 to 2009) and new producer organizations becoming Fair Trade certified, Fair Trade wine is poised to make a huge difference in the lives of even more farmers and workers. Plus, a variety of Fair Trade wines have won awards for their quality, making drinking Fair Trade wine a complete win-win. Talk about something worth toasting!
For more information on Fair Trade wine, check out TransFair USA’s 2009 Wine Impact Report.
Reprint from TransFair USA.