30th January, 2013 by Rupert Millar
Sweden’s state monopoly, Systembolaget, is keen to support the Ethical Seal being pioneered by WIETA and will ask its importers to encourage its uptake among their producers and suppliers.
“We’re really trying to encourage the initiative,” says corporate social responsibility manager, Göran Klintberg speaking to the drinks business.
“We think it’s honest and really good for the South African wine industry.”
He added that it was not possible to force importers to only take wines with the Ethical Seal nor exclude those who did not comply, as this would contravene competition laws.
For now, Klintberg said, as WIETA only asks that companies be 60% compliant in order to hold the seal, it has not yet been recognised by the monopoly.
However, Klintberg adds that Systembolaget recognises the initiative is still young and holds out hope that one day this compliance level will rise to meet the high ethical standards the monopoly sets, which are based on the EU’s corporate responsibility initiative.
“They’re only beginning and the project is fantastic,” he continued. “But we want to be 100% sure of the product before we put it on our shelves and market it in that way.”
So far only the Fairtrade and Fair for Life seals are recognised by Systembolaget and given their own shelf space and additional push as “ethical” products.
South African wines can bear the Ethical Seal but they are not given their own shelf space.
The development of the Ethical Seal and its adoption by increasing numbers of wineries and suppliers in South Africa is crucial, particularly in the wake of worker unrest which is sweeping other industries in the country.
The programme was mentioned by Su Birch, Wines of South Africa’s CEO, in a letter to the Guardian recently.
The letter called a poll asking readers if they would boycott South African wine in the wake of the recent strikes, “inappropriate” and “damaging”.
More on WIETA’s Ethical Seal and its development will appear in the February issue of db.