There has been a growing trend towards sustainable, ethical, and Fair Trade products such as coffee, cocoa, bananas, and other agricultural goods. The U.S. sales of such products have an annual growth rate in the double-digits. Social enterprises that can do good while they make money are really catching on in popularity. Here is a look at social enterprise examples in the wine industry.
Triple Bottom Line Wine Enterprise
The social enterprise trend has also now reached the wine business. Mika Bulmash is the president and founder of Wine for the World, a triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) enterprise looking to change the way people think about wine. Bulmash says, “Millennials, luxury consumers, Gen X and others, already care about where their products come from. We’re sharing with them a very cool story about wines from developing countries.” Wine for the World joins top winemakers in the U.S. with talented winemakers from developing countries to open the U.S. market to new wine regions abroad. They provide consumers the chance to explore wines from new regions and also to contribute to development at the same time.
According to Dr. Liz Thach, Professor of Management and Wine Business at Sonoma State University, the U.S. is the world’s largest wine-consuming country with over one hundred million wine drinkers. Even in a struggling economy the U.S. wine market has managed to grow for the last nineteen years in a row (sales increased by 2.9% in 2012). So how can this growth translate into change for good? Bulmash says, “U.S. wine drinkers have the opportunity to support development by simply continuing to do what they love – explore – with new wine regions, and create powerful change with their dollars.”
Opportunity For Wine Selection To Create Powerful Change
According to Bulmash, up to 25% of all global wine is produced in developing countries. A small increase in the U.S. sales of wine from such a country — even an increase as small as 0.2% — could translate into over 100 million dollars for an emerging market such as South Africa, Uruguay, or Moldova over the course of a few years.
That is why thinking twice the next time you go to buy a nice bottle of wine can make a big difference for the environment, and the people in these countries. Some of these ethical, sustainable, and fair trade products have penetrated U.S. wine retailers. You can look for certifications such as the IPW, WIETA, and Fair Trade USA on the labels of the products.
To include consumers in the process, Wine for the World has employed a ‘collaborative’ funding strategy. The company has launched a crowdfunding campaign on the online funding platform Indiegogo.com. They want to invite consumers to get involved with the process of creating change in the industry. Bulmash says she hopes, through wine, to “Inspire people to think about where things come from. If anything, I hope we encourage people to think about the stories behind what they buy, and from where.”
I hope you have enjoyed learning about these social enterprise examples in the wine industry.
Post contributed by Nate Plutzik who has been featured on National Public Radio’s top-rated program, All Things Considered. He has also contributed technology pieces to NPR’S All Tech Considered. His work has also appeared in a variety of print publications and on NPR member stations.