Dear Curious Readers,
A while ago, in the article about the takeaways from Destille Berlin 2019, I mentioned that I would get back to an intervention that seemed to me to require more time than a five-line paragraph. And that time has come, please meet Erwan Castain and Eleonore Tavernier from Pimlica to answer one question:
what does sustainability mean in the world of fine liquors and spirits?
I had the chance to have a phone conversation with Erwan Castain, not long after his talk at Destille. Here are some of my notes. Of course, any mistakes are all mine.
First things first, who is Pimlica?
Pimlica is a company offering services related to sustainability. They focus on sustainable strategy consulting, the development of durable products & services and the creation of meaningful communication campaigns. It is not a CSR focused agency; more broadly they help their clients make their business model and long-term strategy more durable and resilient when (or ideally before!) facing social and environmental challenges.
What about sustainability in an industry "is turning nourishing raw materials into non-nourishing end products"?
Spirits are useless. They are part of many civilisations and have played a more or less important role into shaping our societies, and as far how the western world goes, even some political situations but we do not need it, the way we need water and sun. Or as Erwan put it " the spirits industry is turning nourishing raw materials into non-nourishing end products ». In that sense I’m writing that spirits are useless, and also for that reason I feel their producers should act even more consciously. In other words, in a world shattered in its roots because not its unsustainability, spirits producers have to be even more environmentally conscious.
But what does spiritsfully know about? Not enough, hence that encounter with Pimlica.
Sustainable production is possible and yet this is often rarely the case. Examples are rare -and mostly among the craft spirits producers (as opposed to the largest companies). It does not mean that the large companies are not working in that direction. However, they have other challenges to face such as the difficulties to manoeuvre such a « big boat » let alone the effects on their reputation. They also suffer from generational conflicts between a senior management not as convinced by the necessity of sustainability like the younger generation and other organisational problem.
In that post, the idea is to look at some of the specific problems that industry is facing and review some good practices. A warning though: the subject is large and requires nuances, and this post is first at all an introduction.
Some facts to have in mind when discussing sustainability:
Here are some good practices and variables that producers have been playing with lately, like
What I find interesting during that talk by Erwan Castain is that I had expected the bigger corporations being at the origin of most of the innovations. They have the mean to be environmentally conscious. They can invest in new plants, new supply chains. Sadly when you look at their policy in that field, they do invest into the health of the consumer (social sustainability), into prevention campaign to insist of drinking better instead of drinking more but…. not into the environment the way smaller producers do.
Most of the innovations come from small scale producers, for whom it is an element of the identity of their products to keep up with a sustainable way to produce.
Interestingly enough too, solutions differs according to the type of spirits. We'll get back to that soon with Tequila.
What’s your take on this? Would you like to read more about it in Spiritsfully?
One last thing but not last: follow Pimlica on instagram!