Bureaucracy, Finance & Paperwork - The True Cost of Certification

Posted on 06 March, 2019 by Jack Barbour | 0 comments


Organic costs more, it’s a well known fact that sadly has become far too accepted. But why? Why is it accepted and why is it allowed!! We all want to eat better, feed our kids the best we can and I’m sure on some level we all wantr to at least try to make sure the planet is is preserved for hopefully another generation or 3. If not then I’m going to start sending all my money to Elon Musk.

 There’s a few different parts of the wine industry, and back when Organic Wine Club was launched, its safe to say that I had the easiest part to play as a retailer. But I remember at that point, I knew very little. I thought Chardonnay was just a wine and didn’t realise it was actually a grape and at one point in life I actually thought that to make Rose wine, you simply mixed the red one with some of the white one. Over an intense learning period this did change, obviously?! However in closing this chapter of life, dealing with the cut-throat ruthless behaviour of competitors and the attempted shaming from consumers chancing their luck for a freebie, I did learn to care and to pay attention. 

So what is the big deal with certification, why do we really need it and why should we have to pay extra just for a freaking stamp from a scientist dropout to say our food and drink is free from the unnecessary stuff, or quite frankly all the crap, that’s added to make it last longer, taste sweeter or cover-up for the makers mistakes or laziness?

Do you know the real cost of that stamp of authority? We’ve covered this just a few times on here, but now that I don’t have to keep my mouth shut, I’m going to be very politically incorrect and I don’t care what any keyboard warrior/industry compatriate  has to say.

 [Insert finger snapping gif here] 

So what does it really cost? Well I can tell you that if you want to add the little green flag into the label of your wine, it will cost the winemaker €2.00, and that’s per bottle! Yes oh yes, the business of organic wine is booming, and that before the wine has even left the vineyard. Then add tax, a mark-up so you can feed your family and, also possibly a bribe if your Italy. You know the developed and thriving first world country with the morals of a clearly unsatisfied female black widow spider!

In order to achieve this status however, let’s have a look at the time implications. It can take anywhere up-to 7 years for a winemaker to achieve this organic certificate, which really isn’t all that surprising. After all look at the state we’ve left the planet in with all our pollutants, artificial fertilisers and stupidity when it comes to plastics and actually recycling. Whoever thought that just burying it in the ground would work was a moron. Perhaps someone with a Donald Trump-like mentality who thought that this we could replicate the natural process to make oil, the same way the extinct dinosaurs did over millions of years!

Whilst I understand that this time factor isn’t necessary and accept this to an extent, a simple and externally produced analysis report from qualified laboratory technicians can tell you the contents of basically anything. This is required under certification rules as it is, so why can’t a vineyard achieve this status sooner if they can prove the bottle has no junk in the trunk? Perhaps the vague and ongoing annual cost of visits and inspections, which sometimes don’t even happen, is the reason for this, I don’t know? But it’s yet more costs to the winemaker before they’ve even sold a bottle or has access to the bragging rights of being organic.

Can I ask, have you bought a ream of paper recently? If you’ve not, it ain’t cheap and if you want to boost your green credentials and get the recycled stuff, even worse! Whilst I have not seen this physically and I will state that, supposedly if you wait the 7 years you will go through around 90 reams of A4 paper. To put that into perspective, the boxes of paper you get from the hard working office boy contains 5 reams. So that’s 13 full boxes of paper, per vineyard. Is it any wonder we need to destroy the Amazon Basin just to prove we’re going green!

We all want and scream for organic produce and green practices so that we can do our bit an save the world one bottle at a time, but this means we need to pay for it. So why do we whine about the cost? What possibly can a winemaker do to help this? Their hands are tied with this process of bureaucracy and we know that indie retailers are already struggling, a well know fact from our High Streets. 

So how can we be guaranteed that what we’re consuming is actually organic? Well there is enough of us in the world, we can all participate instead of watching the crazy on daytime tv (except Lorraine, we like Lorraine). To look at me for a suggestion would be idiotic, but perhaps trying something different and trust each other in a similar way that the exclusive group of winemakers SAINS does. or go a step further and blanket ban all chemicals in the production of food and drinks? 

But I have a sweet tooth, I hear someone shouting at their smartphone in angst! Well natural sugars taste just as good and will help with those affectionately named rolls you carry around with you everyday. So get over it!

The question I put to you is it time to consider shunning the current certification process when a retailer, and I can speak from experience, can prove or disprove certain claims that can be made by a producer. Who should be responsible for this organic label that we all strive to consume? Is it the producer, the retailer, the consumer?

Organic shouldn’t be a paupers dream, equally it shouldn’t be a way for governments to raise money through tax or absolve them self from allowing their tax payers to consume shit, it should be the only way of life and if we want to make it accessible, is this possibly the quickest and easiest way.

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