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Wine customers drive environmental agenda

The December 2005 issue of the Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker reported that the Australian wine industry recognises the importance of nurturing the environment and has initiated a number of programs to ensure sound environmental practices are undertaken by winery and vineyard operators.

A major new initiative is the Australian Wine Industry Stewardship (AWIS) program, instigated by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) in response to the increasing demands by retailers, Governments and investors for proof of good environmental performance.

The first steps in the AWIS Program are to identify what environmental activities are currently being undertaken by Australia’s wineries and the environmental assurance requirements of our major international markets.

WFA chief executive Stephen Strachan announced the release of the report ‘Oiling the Chain: Trends in environmental assurances in the European market’.

“This report is the first in a series of customer reviews highlighting the emerging environmental assurance trends in major overseas markets, with research also being undertaken in the United States and Asia / Pacific markets,” Strachan said.

“The Australian wine industry will increasingly be asked to demonstrate its environmental credentials, and the AWIS Program was initiated to provide evidence of these practices,” he said. “The review of European markets has shown that the demand for environmental assurances is being driven by retailers seeking to perform well against Corporate Social Responsibility indexes, rather than by the consumer,” he said.

Strachan said that specific issues of particularly high profile in European markets were climate change, waste, water, biodiversity and green purchasing practices.

“This review has provided a clear indication of the types of assurances likely to impact on the Australian wine industry in the future, and the AWIS Program will ensure that the industry can demonstrate its ‘green’ position against these benchmarks when they begin to influence overseas wine markets”, Strachan said.

The AWIS Program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

* Stephen Strachan, chief executive of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.

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