South Australian wines go ‘green’

Posted by James Ferre on 29th May 2008

South Australia’s wine makers and grape growers are the first industry group in the nation to sign an agreement to accurately track and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Premier Mike Rann signed the Sector Agreement on climate change at the London Wine Fair with Orlando’s Chief Winemaker, Philip Laffer, on behalf of the SA Wine Industry Association and Jim Caddy, Chairman of CCW Co-op Ltd, on behalf of the Wine Grape Council SA.

Premier Rann claims this is an important Agreement for two main reasons:
*It demonstrates a clear commitment that SA’s wine industry is serious about adapting to climate change and responding to the targets set by the State Government’s new climate change legislation – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050.

*It recognises that consumers and distributors across the globe are beginning to favour wine makers that are actively reducing their carbon footprint.

“The UK is Australia’s largest wine export destination. Of the nearly (A)$1 billion of Australian wines sold in the UK each year, South Australian wines make up a massive 72 per cent of that market,” Mr Rann said. “South Australia exports nearly 400 million litres – or $1.6 billion of wine – annually. Put simply, the wine industry is recognising today that it cannot afford to ignore the planet or their markets.”

“The giant supermarket chain Tescos, the UK’s single largest distributor of Australian wines, is aggressively pursuing a “Greener Living” campaign and has recently started freighting its wine stocks from Liverpool to Manchester by barge to save on carbon emissions,” he added. “Sir Terry Leahy, the Chief Executive of Tesco was recently reported saying that he wanted to devise a system of labelling that would enable shoppers to compare a product’s carbon footprint just as easily as they can currently compare its price or nutritional value. I am told that Marks & Spencer has similar plans, as does the US shopping chain Wal Mart. The US is our second largest wine export destination.”

“Adapting to climate change and growing consumer awareness is the way of the future and we ignore this new direction at our peril,” Mr Rann asserted. “The signing of this Sector Agreement today will ensure South Australia’s wine industry will be able to gain the edge as it begins to reduce its carbon footprint in manufacturing its wines.”

Premier Rann identified that the goals of the new program were to improve energy efficiency, increase recycled water use, reduce waste to landfill, develop other greenhouse gas emission strategies and position the SA wine industry to become a world leader in relation climate change adaptation.

The Agreement is anticipated to be just the beginning when it comes to improving Australian industries to deal with the demands of climate change. “I hope to be signing a range of Sector Agreements with other industries over the coming months,” Mr Rann said. “In the case of the wine sector, discussions have already commenced with Wine Industry Suppliers Australia Inc (WISA) who provide technologies, advice, products and services to the wine industry”.

Premier Rann also announced that South Australia’s latest ‘Thinker in Residence’, Professor Andrew Fearne from the Kent Business School in the UK, will undertake to model the ‘Vine to Dine’ carbon footprint and how the wine drinker values the different attributes associated with South Australian wine.

“Professor Fearne’s study will be the first of its kind to investigate both the economic and environmental impacts of selling South Australian wine in the key and highly competitive wine market of the United Kingdom – a lean and green study.” Mr Rann said.

Professor Fearne says there is a need for a greater understanding of where and how value, as perceived by consumers, is created in the wine value chain. “We need to identify where the opportunities exist for reducing costs, adding more value and reducing environmental impacts along the wine value chain. The ultimate goal is to secure a sustainable competitive advantage for the SA wine industry by being more responsive to the changing needs of customers and consumers,” Professor Fearne stated.

The study is expected to be completed in November 2008.