Footprint Blog

Double Standards in the On-Trade

Posted in Comment,Food Miles,Logistics,Sustainability by foodservicefootprint on April 22, 2009


Can anybody help answering a burning question that we have?

One would have thought the notion of supplying restaurants with bottles that are either shipped or flown to our shores and then have to be loaded onto lorries and driven to the final destinations, would have involved some form of green consciousness or at least some form ecological mandate?

The water industry, ostensibly in the same logistical sphere, get constant flack and are constantly having to defend themselves by making their environmental policies as transparent as possible. So why, oh why, does the wine trade not follow suit?

Looking at the websites of the main players in the wine trade, no supplier that I came across mentions anything about the environment. Is it me, or is this strange?

A father had four sons: When they left school one went into the City, one into the Clergy, the other joined the Army and poor old Rupert didn’t quite know what to do so he joined the Wine Trade. As vivid as this cliche may be those days have simply gone by.

What has emerged is a global, enlightened industry that is no longer French-centric and is very keen on bringing the idea of wine and all its mystery to the people – effectively decoding the enigma previously only accessible to the privileged. We now have brand managers and on-trade sales managers who understand not only the wines that they are selling but also the intricacies of the markets that they are selling to. The stuffy stereotype wine merchant and sommelier of days of old, does not have a place in the modern day wine trade. And those that once could have been in these ranks are now mature enough to have adapted to the modern business environment. This is why it is so surprising.

Bio-dynamic and organic wine making methods are as ancient as the production of wine itself, yet the branding of these methods is new! I suspect vintners who engage in these methods believe that it produces a better wine and that the environmental sustainability is merely a symptom rather than a cause but should those involved in the logistics of buying and selling wine not follow this example and focus on a positive impact of the environment? Or at least let its customers know that they are aware of a movement?

I would like to know that the wine served at my table in a restaurant has got there by an on-trade supplier that does not consider itself immune to the general cause of environmental consciousness and is addressing points on a greener path.

I am not a tree hugger and I don’t want bio-dynamic and organic wines shoved down my throat but whilst the bottled water industry is taking huge amounts of flack, these arguements are one of foodservice’s great inconsistencies in its quest for a greener industry and I believe that the on-trade’s green integrity needs to be addressed.

This criticism is in many ways directed at those who pay lip-service to green fad’s and will pick holes in perhaps the more obvious areas. But before criticising the usual suspects of the water industry, livestock farming, fisherman etc, maybe these should look at the less obvious areas with equal interest and be more consistent in their criticisms and arguments.

One Response to 'Double Standards in the On-Trade'

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  1. Senior Citizen said,

    Since the beginning of time French and Spanish wines have had to be imported and – as far as I remember – no one disputed this necessity. As a senior citizen I’m perhaps understandably rather set in my ways and still drink French wines and to hell with transport costs. Do by all means find better ways of transporting wine from Australia, New Zealand or even Eastern Europe but do not interfere with a bottle of red from France or a good Spanis Rioja.
    And – just as an afterthought – in my very very early days sherry used to be imported from South Africa and you would have a ‘bring your own’ bottle filled out of a casket at the off licence. Yes, those were the days…………..

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