Wine is one of the most popular drinks across the globe and has been produced for thousands of years.
Wine grape farming and production is a hard, labor intensive industry, with a prolonged and demanding process for workers. In many cases, this leads to poor living conditions and working standards for both the grape farmers and hired labor on plantations.
The Fairtrade Standards aim to protect workers’ rights on Fairtrade wine plantations, improve work conditions, and help smallholder wine grape farmers to secure higher prices and more control in the supply chain. Forty-eight Fairtrade wine organizations are located in Lebanon, Tunisia, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
In 2013, two thirds of Fairtrade wine was produced in South Africa, where there are 28 wine producer organizations. Chile is another high producer of Fairtrade wine; home to 10 Fairtrade wine producer organizations. Both countries have experienced social, economic and political challenges that have played an important part in shaping their nations.
In South Africa, the apartheid system made opportunities for economic development scarce, creating a legacy of poor working conditions and weak labor rights in the wine industry. Issues affecting wine grape growing communities include unequal land distribution, authoritarian labor relations, high levels of alcoholism, low wages, poor housing and discrimination against women.
A long history of wine grape cooperatives exists in Chile, both in cultivating grapes and making wine. During the Pinochet regime, many farmers went bankrupt and the remaining farmers are struggling to survive with unsustainable low market prices.
Fairtrade certified grape farmers are guaranteed the Fairtrade Minimum Price and farmer organizations earn the extra Fairtrade Premium for their crop. The Fairtrade Minimum Price is set to cover the sustainable cost of production.
The Fairtrade Standards set good working conditions in accordance with the International Labour Organization Conventions; including safe environments, no child labor, the right to unionize and standards against discrimination.
Both smallholder grape farmer organizations and plantation workers’ groups receive additional funds for business and community development through the Fairtrade Premium, which they invest in healthcare, education, training programs, and farm improvement.