How did the idea for the CSR label come about?
The AFAQ ISO 26000 assessment is a company-wide process that demands time, investment and commitment from employees at every level of the business.
What the scheme does not offer, however, is some kind of label that products can display to keep customers informed. ‘We felt it was important to tell our clientele about this initiative because they are the ones who ultimately benefit most. Today’s consumers don’t just want to know how products are made, they’re also interested in the processes companies employ to make them. There is growing interest in sustainable and ethical practices,’ explains Valérie Vincent, Marketing and Communications Manager at Gabriel Meffre.
The internal team thought long and hard about how to tell the end customer about this particular CSR pledge. While several proposals were put on the table, ‘a sticker is the most effective solution because it’s a direct call-out to the consumer.’
Centred on the bottle's neck, the CSR sticker is printed with the mention ‘Sustainable Development - Exemplary’, information which is explained in more detail on the back label.
A signature sticker for a far-reaching initiative
Throughout the year, the winery is engaged in a full plan of actions that target social, societal and environmental objectives. Projects include:
Converting Domaine de Longue Toque, the jewel in the winery’s crown, to organic farming, a process currently underway.
After obtaining Terra Vitis certification (a standard of green agriculture) in 2001, the switch to organic farming takes our best environmental practices to the next level. You might be wondering why we decided to go down this road, when it comes with greater risks and the vines demand even more attention? ‘It’s a big decision, but one we have made with conviction, because we want our estate to lead by example which will also encourage our partner winegrowers to develop their own best practices.’
High Environmental Value (HVE) Certification
Our second estate, Château Grand Escalion in Costières de Nîmes, has been Terra Vitis "integrated farming" certified since 2001. One of the projects in the pipeline for 2019 is to move up to HVE 3 certification.
HVE certification meets the requirements formulated by the government's ‘Grenelle Environment’ programme in view of giving recognition to agricultural businesses engaged in environmentally friendly initiatives. For our winery, this represents a step in between Terra Vitis and future ‘Agriculture Biologique’ (the organic market’s private label) certification. ‘It’s important to keep in mind that organic farming brings a whole new set of risks to any winery. All it takes is a run of unusual weather patterns and disease and you can lose some or all of the harvest, which can have serious repercussions,’ spells out Valérie. ‘You need to know everything a scheme entails before signing up to it.’
One project explored the possibility of reducing the weight of our bottles, the most popular models used, essentially for Export markets. ‘The aim was to significantly minimise our impact on the environment, while keeping the personalised engravings on our bottles that set us apart and are an indication of quality," explains Valérie. With the help of a glass manufacturer and a work of almost a year, Gabriel Meffre developed the lightest emblazoned screw-cap bottle on the market (410g vs 520g previously). ‘We produce 2.5 million of this model of bottle a year, so this represents a saving of 250 tons of glass.’
Other actions have been undertaken, such as executing the 2017 gender equality action plan as well as creating a ‘responsible purchasing’ policy shared with all of our 130 suppliers.
The winery is also taking steps to improve working conditions and the general welfare of its employees. It has already spoken with the company doctor and an ergonomics consultant about posture and equipment used by people working in our offices and in front of a screen.
Gabriel Meffre plans to instil the CSR strategy in every aspect of its business and the new sticker is a great way to let consumers know what is happening behind the scenes!