In the past year, there has often been a call on wine businesses to manufacture, market and sell their products in a safe and responsible manner, and to encourage responsible consumption. What are the practical implications of this and what is being done at industry level?
Keep people safe
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in South Africa in March last year, the hashtags #Maskup #Sanitise and #Socialdistance have become part of every South African’s daily routine to keep themselves and those around them safe from the Coronavirus. Vinpro and WIETA have further expanded this and a number of other golden rules into a comprehensive set of health and safety protocols aimed at different levels of the industry during and after Covid-19. The protocols are based on guidelines from the World Health Organisation, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and requirements as established by the Department of Employment and Labour.
Businesses must first assess their risk (for which a simple template is available from the resources below), and adjust their strategy and processes accordingly. Also communicate the procedures and importance of compliance in and outside the workplace to employees and make sure that they do comply.
Most businesses follow a standard procedure around access control, which includes a sanitation station, maintaining an attendance register of staff and any other persons on the premises, taking their temperature and asking certain questions around symptoms and contact with Covid-19 positive persons. However farms, cellars, bottling facilities and export warehouses also have their own set of specialised measures. Download the resources here:
Protocol: Wine grape production
Protocol: Wine grape production – Risk Assessment Template
Protocol for the Liquor Industry: Bottling & processing
Protocol: SA wine export loading procedure – packaged wine
Protocol: SA wine export loading procedure – bulk wine
In contrast to the farm and cellar setup where the turnover of people remains fairly constant from day to day, wine tourism destinations deal with a greater variety of guests from all over on a daily basis, and the interaction is of a more personal nature. That’s why these businesses follow their own customised Protocol: Wine tourism destinations.
With a view to reopening local trade, the liquor industry was also proactive in making practical guidelines and resources available to liquor traders through the Trade Aware campaign to keep their customers and employees safe.
To ensure long-term business continuity, the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) and a number of partners are offering free professional occupational health and safety (OHS) support to agribusinesses until mid-March.
While irresponsible liquor consumption and its effect on hospitals has been a major point of contention over the past year, and has served as a motivation for government to impose trade restrictions, the Covid19 pandemic has uncovered cracks in our society that were already a reality before 2020.
Vinpro believes that a longer-term strategy is needed to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol abuse and to cultivate a culture of responsible consumption. In line with international best practices, there should be stricter enforcement of existing legislation and zero tolerance for offenders, along with the nationwide implementation of targeted awareness programmes and campaigns on responsible use.
The wine industry has therefore been committed to the actions of the liquor industry body, the Association for Alcohol Responsibility and Education (aware.org) over the past few years to combat alcohol abuse and its harmful effects. These include a variety of evidence-based harm reduction programmes, interventionsand campaigns on, amongst others, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, drinking and driving or walking, underage consumption, binge drinking and addressing alcohol abuse and misuse at community level.
Aware.org works closely with the Foundation for Alcohol-Related Research (FARR), to conduct research on foetal alcohol spectrum disorder in vulnerable communities, and runs training and support programmes in the high-risk communities of Jacobsdal, Kirkwood, Prince Albert and Graaff Reinet.
The Evergrow Foundation (formerly Vinpro Foundation) also presents an Ambassador Programme, with the support of Aware.org, according to which close to 40 persons provide support and programmes in the respective wine regions, focusing on foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, awareness regarding alcohol misuse and related problems, as well as other life skills.
To address underage drinking and alcohol abuse, the organisation has rolled out, the It Starts Today CAPs LO intervention in 32 schools and communities in the Eastern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga reaching over 18 150 learners, and more recently have made resources available to liquor traders and manufacturers to help them emphasise compliance to legislation that there may be no sales to persons under the age of 18 at all points of sale, on digital retail platforms and in their marketing in general
Aware.org, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and the Department of Transport are constantly collaborating on social norms campaigns to promote road safety, and during the past festive season the industry issued, among other things, Uber gift certificates as part of a Designated Driver campaign to help ensure that persons do not drive under the influence.
Wine businesses need to make sure they portray their products to consumers in a responsible manner. Vinpro and its members therefore follow the industry’s Code of Commercial Communication, which regulates the liquor industry in terms of the content of promotional messages, but also restrictions on where and when liquor products may be advertised, including vehicles, billboards and sponsorships, as well as mainstream media and digital and social media guidelines. In view of the vulnerability of consumers during Covid-19, aware.org issued a Covid-19 Addendum to the Communication Code.
From November 2017 to June 2021, the liquor industry will have invested more than R450 million on harm reduction research, programmes, interventions and campaigns to address the scourge of alcohol abuse and its harmful effects in South Africa. The industry have committed a further R1 billion for this purpose over the next five years.
The industry has also joined hands with government, civil society, labour, the liquor board and the South African Police Service (SAPS) over the past few months to shift behaviour through focused interventions. As part of this, about 1 000 community patrollers were sent to hotspot areas to audit liquor traders’ compliance with Covid-19 regulations, as part of a larger nationwide audit on responsible trade.
More than R145 million has also been reinvested into communities through the donation of personal protective equipment and other resources to hospitals, welfare support and food parcels to communities through NGOs, as well as the provision of alcohol for the manufacture of hand sanitisers and protective equipment to smaller liquor traders.
It starts with you
The wine industry takes the health and safety of its employees and their communities seriously, and remains committed towards creating an environment in which people can enjoy its products responsibly. Industry bodies such as Vinpro and its partners provide the necessary resources, make funding available, develop and roll out programmes and campaigns, and provide the necessary support to achieve these goals.
If you want the wine industry to be one in which you, your business, your employees and community can thrive, it is your responsibility to take the reins and make it happen.