Fairtrade wine from Argentina combined with Finnish work
Altia's Chill Out Genuine & Intense Organic Malbec red wine is produced by Bodega Montlaiz, an Argentinian wine producer with organic and Fairtrade certification. Being involved in Fairtrade has had a positive impact on the lives of Bodega Montlaiz's workers. From Argentina the wine continues to Altia's Rajamäki plant. Packing close to consumers and using lighter PET-bottles reduces the product's carbon footprint.
Bodega Montlaiz, an Argentinian producer of organic wines, is the producer behind Altia’s Chill Out Genuine & Intense Organic Malbec red wine. Since the 2015 vintage, Bodega Montlaiz’s wines have also been Fairtrade certified. This means that the production meets the Fairtrade criteria for working conditions and wages. The price paid to the producer of a Fairtrade wine consists of the guaranteed Fairtrade Minimum Price, and a separate premium that is allocated to uses selected by the workers themselves. The Fairtrade criteria have been created so as to support democratic decision-making in the producer community.
Although Montlaiz’s Fairtrade certificate is still fairly recent, the owner Mariano Olaiz says it has increased the sense of community among the vineyard workers. The Fairtrade Premium provides concrete additional motivation for work.
“The better the wine we make and the more successful Bodega Montlaiz is, the bigger the amount of the Fairtrade Premium we can channel directly to the uses selected by the workers,” says Olaiz.
The committee established by Bodega Montlaiz’s workers has already planned how they will use the Fairtrade premium. Among other things, they want to buy clothes, food and school supplies for school-aged children. In addition, they plan to establish a separate fund that can support families facing an illness or some other reason leading to an acute need for money.
Wine-cellar worker Gerardo Heredia confirms Olaiz’s claim concerning the increased sense of community.
“Fairtrade has been a very good thing for us. In addition to enabling us to improve our living environment, we have started seeing each other in a new way. We’re interested in how everyone is doing, and try to help each other,” says Heredia.
Construction site manager Cesar Leguizamón has only recently joined Montlaiz.
“Montlaiz is the first place where I’ve immediately been informed of my legal rights at the workplace in relation to the payment of wages, for example. And when I needed to renovate my house, my colleagues came along to help. They told me about Fairtrade and about we could all help each other out,” says Leguizamón.
Long-term commitment throughout the Fairtrade supply chain
The Fairtrade criteria set requirements for all operators in the supply chain of the Fairtrade product. The starting point are long-term business relations and cooperation, to which all the parties involved in the supply chain of a Fairtrade wine commit. All companies involved in the supply chain are Fairtrade certified, all the way from the vineyards to the packaging of the finished product. Meeting the Fairtrade criteria and the traceability of the wine throughout the supply chain is monitored by the Fairtrade verifier Flocert. The aim of reducing poverty through Fairtrade requires the contribution of all parties involved.
Packing close to consumers reduces the carbon footprint
From Mendoza, Argentina, the wine continues its way towards Finland and Altia’s plant at Rajamäki, the first bottler of alcoholic beverages in Finland to receive Fairtrade certification. At Rajamäki the wine is bottled into a PET bottle. Packaging a product near the consumers and using PET bottles, which are lighter than glass bottles, reduces the product’s carbon footprint.
“It’s important for Altia to use responsibly produced raw materials. Participation in Fairtrade provides a means to promote good working conditions and respect for the environment in the supply chain,” says Saara Azbel, Altia’s Corporate Responsibility Manager.
“The Fairtrade logo is also important to an increasing number of consumers and thereby our customers. We also have high-level wine competence at the Rajamäki plant and we take pride in the fact that we can use this competence for the benefit of Fairtrade products as well,” says Azbel. From a personal point of view, Azbel appreciates the fact that Fairtrade provides a way to be involved in providing better income for farmers, and support for local communities in the education of children and other matters important to them.
“I love the way this wine combines a Fairtrade raw material and Finnish work at Rajamäki. This wine tells a great story about the power of cooperation. I encourage other companies to also learn more about their own supply chains and the people who work at the beginning of the supply chain,” says Taika Koivula, responsible for contacts at Fairtrade Finland.
The wine has made a long journey before it winds up in a consumer’s shopping basket in Finland or Sweden. Mariano Olaiz from Montlaiz reminds us that a consumer buying their wine is nevertheless just as much part of their journey as a Fairtrade producer of wine.
“By considering the wellbeing of others we can all create more happiness around us. Sustainable development is only possible through cooperation” says Olaiz.
Written by: Fairtrade Finland /Taika Koivula