02-Planeta_manchette_175x100
Allegrini 2018
FUTURE

Sustainability at the center of the UIV assembly: the protocol by the summer

Environmental, economic and social: this is the future of viticulture, the market demands it, the Next Generation EU expects it
ANGELO RICCABONI, ERNESTO ABBONA, GIAN MARCO CENTINAIO, PAOLO DE CASTRO, STEFANO PATUANELLI, SUSTAINABILITY, UIV, UNIONE ITALIANA VINI, News
Sustainability in the vineyard

After organic farming, sustainability - hinged on three pillars (environmental, economic and social) - is the polar star that guides the present and the future of Italian wine companies, in the wake of the decree signed two weeks ago by the Ministry of Agriculture, which will establish the rules for the “certification system of sustainability of the wine supply chain”, i.e. a single national and official standard. This step was enthusiastically welcomed by the Unione Italiana Vini (UIV), which placed the great theme of sustainability at the center of its annual General Assembly, declining it in the case histories of reference companies in the wine sector such as the Sicilian companies Settesoli and Firriato, the Sardinian company Argiolas, Marchesi Frescobaldi and the Schenk Italian Wineries group.
The single standard, which will be the synthesis of existing protocols (Viva, Equalitas, Tergeo), will arrive before the end of the summer, as assured by the Minister of Agriculture Stefano Patuanelli, and will be essential to build a production model that is in tune with the objectives of the Next Generation Eu. Among the cornerstones of EU policy in the coming years, in fact, there are the ecological and digital transition, which the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRP) addresses from different points of view. This is a train that the world of wine, starting with the next CAP, must jump on, not only because the productive aspects of every company, especially those of food and wine of excellence, are now closely linked to the concept of sustainability, which means, first and foremost, playing an active role in one's own territory, but also because it is the market itself that rewards sustainable production, starting with wine, as shown by the Wine Intelligence study presented by Pierpaolo Penco. Clarified the objective, as emerged from the speeches of UIV president Ernesto Abbona, Professor Angelo Riccaboni, president of the Santa Chiara Lab at the University of Siena, Paolo De Castro, S&D coordinator at the Agriculture Commission in Brussels and Gian Marco Centinaio, undersecretary of Agriculture with responsibility for wine, we must now work, as a supply chain, to decide how, starting from the resources allocated by the Pnrr (Recovery and Resilience Plan), which are essential to provide wine companies with the technologies and professionalism necessary to undertake the road to sustainability in the best possible way.
“We are promoters of a necessary change”, began Ernesto Abbona, president of Unione Italiana Vini (Uiv) in the speech that closed the General Assembly.
“In 2020 we continued to work, but with the fear of redundancies and not knowing how to sell our productions, situations that are difficult to manage. Then, the government provided extraordinary resources to restart consumption, an important response. At the same time, also in the wake of the e-commerce boom, we have focused on digitalization, because we feel marginalized, living in the countryside, by the digital transition, as well as by the infrastructural one. Another key issue to address is the ecological transition because there is a climate change taking place that is in front of everyone’s eyes. Sustainability is the great theme of today, one and threefold: environmental, economic and social. We must invest in training and human capital, commitment and good will are not enough, we must grow and educate ourselves, sharing objectives. A single standard - continues Abbona - is not only welcome, but it is also indispensable and necessary, a request that has been met, but that must be extended to all, and that is democratic because only in this way are territories protected and customers respected. The role of UIV is crucial, we are a trait d’union, and this result is the crowning achievement of a years-long commitment. It is a path that leads us to ask Minister Patuanelli to implement extraordinary measures for the relaunch of our sector, which is already underway: after the panic we experienced a year of satisfaction, climbing the slope on our own strength. We know how to compete with the whole world, but it is necessary to strengthen the measures for the promotion of our wines abroad, where we have been lacking for too long, with the resources already deliberated and that need to be made available as soon as possible”.
Training for companies, market monitoring, reorientation of funds (including Psr and Ocm) for investments in environmental performance and promotion of the public logo “sustainable wines” will be the four cornerstones of the “roadmap on sustainability” of Unione Italiana Vini (UIV). “Sustainability is, first and foremost, a paradigm shift, a cultural transition that Unione Italiana Vini intends to continue to accompany and guide. For this reason, we have thought of a multi-year path, the core of our institutional and service activities, which allows us to work on the fundamental guidelines for the success of the project: training, monitoring and positioning, investments, promotion. A commitment that we hope, we will share with all the players in the supply chain, from institutions to the companies themselves”, concludes Ernesto Abbona.
The first stage of the UIV roadmap is the training and information paths that will accompany member companies towards the achievement of sustainability goals. This awareness work will be flanked by the activities of the UIV Wine Observatory to measure the impact and share data on the performance of “sustainable wines” produced in Italy on the domestic market and in foreign markets. As far as planning and investments are concerned, Unione Italiana Vini has asked Minister Patuanelli for guidelines to adapt the current tools supporting companies, in particular the funds of the Regional Rural Development Plans and some measures of the CMO, towards investment measures aimed at improving environmental performance and obtaining public environmental certification. Finally, the aim is to promote the public logo “sustainable wine”: the definition of the national public standard and logo on sustainability in wine is the first step, which will be accompanied by effective institutional promotional campaigns that promote the model of sustainable wine abroad, also to facilitate its recognition by consumers and foreign bodies.
“The reason we drink wine is not thirst, but because it is a product of our territory, our culture, the typicalities are linked to the bell towers, and their sum has made our country great”, says, responding to the stimuli arrived from the producers of the Unione Italiana Vini (Uiv) the Minister of Agriculture Stefano Patuanelli. “Wine represents all this, and the greatest challenge is to avert the homologation of agro-food productions, which is instead a topic of discussion at a global level. For our production methods and capacities, it is a problem that Italian wine and food must avert. Putting in place projects which protect the distinctiveness of our productions is a primary goal. A principle inherent to the CAP, which has clear objectives and satisfactory tools, with the only regret of the lack of unbureaucratization of the instrument, there was room to do better”.
“For resources on promotion, there are, and when we have the sustainability logo there will be more, as well as for communication. Skills and training are two central themes, we must have the ability to inform producers of what the projects of the Transition 4.0 Plan are, because the resources are there. In terms of skills, putting research and development and producers’ knowledge into a system is something that needs to be developed and deepened. In Italy, the way in which skills are transferred is central. I have doubts about the management of funds by local administrations: the real problem is that the closer you get to the productive world, the stronger the urge to please everyone and not to make choices. Bringing the decision-maker too close to the territory leads to fragmentation, instead, choices must be quick and concrete, but they must be made: we cannot keep everything and everyone inside. And if the world of wine has had such a positive reaction after last year’s tragedies, it is because it has been able to make dynamic and concrete choices. We need a national direction, the Pnrr is an opportunity that puts the Ministry back at the center: we have the possibility to choose the criteria according to which to distribute the resources, and we will do it”, continued Minister Patuanelli.
“Clarity is another central element: the prefix bio is in front of anything, and sooner or later the market will understand for itself what is really organic. And then the need to simplify regulations and bureaucracy, also to become faster in giving the right answers to entrepreneurs. Every time we try to cut red tape, we add regulations, so I'm not optimistic, but I see a little light at the end of the tunnel. We are aware that we have resources to spend, and when we are in difficulty we are always good at getting out of it. We hope, by the end of the summer, to make the sustainability specifications available to wine producers”, concludes the head of the Department of Agriculture.
Also from the world of politics, Giuseppe Blasi, Head of the Department of European and International Policies and Rural Development of the Ministry of Agriculture, underlines how
“the decree on wine sustainability, on which we hope to obtain approval of the implementing rules by the end of the summer, is not only a point of arrival but also a starting point: the Regions are in fact already inserting the requirements of sustainability within the Plans for Rural Development as an incentive factor, but the great qualitative leap will be made with the national strategic plan. And in this context, the whole process of harmonization, to which we have committed ourselves in recent years, will have to find a place”. As far as the Pnrr is concerned, according to Blasi: “The plan does not explicitly indicate supply chains, but we have obtained very important answers for the wine sector: from logistics to technological innovation to the theme of water, on which we have already started”.
The sustainability protocol of the wine supply chain is a device that will allow certified sustainable products to be commercialized, first in Europe, with a public mark of recognition, a step New Zealand has been taking for years and reaping the benefits. For twenty years the New Zealand wine industry has been on the sustainable path, and today 96% of its vineyard area is certified. On this asset, based on an integrated action of respect for the environment, people and a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, the Government of Wellington has built a brand recognized throughout the world. The leaflet certifying the sustainability of the bottles produced on the label is increasingly in demand, and it is no coincidence that, even in the year of Covid, New Zealand wine exports grew - the only one among the top producers - by 5.4%, for a total of 1.13 billion euros. According to the processing of Unione Italiana Vini (UIV) on the data of New Zealand Winegrowers, in the last decade (2011-2022), the increase in export in terms of value was 76%, which is 150% more than the growth in the same period of the world export market. And the sustainable brand also rewards the average price, which last year exceeded 5.6 euros per liter: almost double the export price of Italian wine. The United States is the main buyer of New Zealand green wines, with an exploit, from 2011 to today, of +168%, and with a value of sales that last year exceeded 365 million euros. They are followed by the United Kingdom (+58%), Canada (+130%) and Germany, which increased by +1150% and protagonist of a +48% in the last year.
“With the new CAP, we were able to include the reallocation of unused planting rights by 2022 so that they can be reallocated from 2023; we are talking about 5-6,000 hectares, in addition to that 1% at the discretion of the Member States. In addition, we are also well on our way to getting the green light for the one-year extension of planting authorizations already obtained. An extension, until the end of 2022, due to the pandemic and the consequent crisis experienced in the last period”, adds Roberto Berutti, Cabinet of the Commissioner for Agriculture of the European Commission, Jacub Wojciechowski. “With the recent approval of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) - Berutti resumes - Italian wine will receive 348 million euros per year for the next 7 years, in addition to funds related to rural development plans can be allocated to the sector. Among the measures adopted, the consolidation of markets brought to 8 years instead of 5 and the confirmation of the so-called green harvest”.
On the subject of the CAP, Paolo De Castro, S&D coordinator at the Agriculture Commission in Brussels, recalls the importance “of the political agreement found on the reform of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy), the result of work that has lasted three years. On the table we have the fruit of a positive mediation, which allows us to achieve many goals, especially for the wine sector, with almost all requests accepted and brought home. Including the label, anticipating other sectors, and a debate that will lead us to nutritional labeling that will arrive next spring, let's see how. These are delicate steps, which contrast different systems and cultural approaches: we do not like report cards unrelated to the quantities consumed. The CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) has the great merit of having found a balance between environmental sustainability and tools to be stronger and more competitive”.
Returning to the sustainability protocol, “the Dl wants to give a quick response to a request from the sector, shared by all the trade associations”, says Gian Marco Centinaio, Undersecretary of Agriculture (with delegation to wine). “Being sustainable in the wine sector is an example of how Italy is in the vanguard, and this is a plus when you go out there. We are ready to face the challenge of sustainability, we don't have to take lessons from anyone, Europe is asking us for efforts, we can say that we are ready, even in an active way, in the use of European funds that will come to our country. We must demonstrate that we are able to use them to relaunch the wine sector and the entire agri-food industry. The policy, at ministerial level, is there to carry out all the requests coming from the sector”.
Finally, from an economic point of view, the analysis of Professor Angelo Riccaboni, president Santa Chiara Lab of the University of Siena. “In the NRP there are important resources, 8 billion euros for sustainable agribusiness, which refer to logistics, agrisolar park, precision agriculture, and then there is the theme of the sustainable supply chain (2.8 billion euros), but there is never any mention of wine or other precise agricultural sectors. Italian companies have already done a lot on sustainability, we are full of good practices, being sustainable is worthwhile, it is not a burden or a burden, there is economic and social convenience. There are many examples, there is a close relationship between the actors of the supply chain as in no other, without forgetting the role of growth of the context. The bar is now being raised because consumers are starting to demand sustainable products, and for this they need certification, the market needs proof of corporate sustainability. Sustainability certification is yet another opportunity to improve business management. As Italy we have to show that our companies, which hardly invoice a billion euros, are up to the task and can be at the table that defines the rules of tomorrow. If we are not there, beyond politics, it is a problem for our companies. The system is capable of self-regulation, of proposing commitments; in the tension between North and South Europe, we risk a clash that we cannot afford. It is important to promote new practices, and the Italian model, designed on small businesses, can become a reference for all”, concludes Professor Angelo Riccaboni.

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