Although the wine industry is very lucrative, small wine grapes producers and wineries face sustainability problems, no matter how good their products are. They need ways to increase their efficiency, reduce costs and get better prices to match their good sustainability practices applied. An opportunity could arise from regulatory changes. The previous exemption of the wine industry from displaying ingredients and calories in the label, granted under Food Consumer reg. (1169/2011), was considered by the EC to be unjustified (2017). The wine industry proposal to have display calories on label and the ingredients on or off-label was endorsed by the EC instruments. The wine value chain would like to take advantage of the opportunity to include other information they want to promote to the consumers, presenting the added value of their products in terms of quality, locality and applied good sustainability practices, aiming to reap additional value. This is part of the agenda of the Copa Cogeca working group of Agricultural Technology, as this is also a sensitive issue that needs to be handled properly. Finally, the Agricultural Research Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus wants to support the local wine value chain in adopting sustainable best practices based on relevant research and taking advantage of the aforementioned opportunity.
The solution to the problem will be addressed with a mixture of technological, social, entrepreneurial and insitutional innovations!
Firstly, a wine grapes production support mechanism will be established, combining 1) a human component comprising the researchers and agronomists of ARI and 2) the Gaiasense Smart Farming (SF) solution which will be applied in the vineyards of the innovative Ktima Vassiliades “Oenou Yi” (Land of Wine) estate, located between the mountain peaks of Troodos mountains. This will help the farmers minimise the application of fertilisers and pesticides, thus reducing the production costs, improving the fruit quality (less chemical residuals) and reducing the smaller environmental footprint of the production.
Furthermore, the systems of the brand new winery of OenouYi and gaiasense solution will be connected with the Ploutos traceability solution using GS1 standards to feed the collected data to a digital labelling solution that will promote the related product quality and sustainability information to the consumer. In addition, a collaboration with Filagro Group exporting company will help in achieving additional benefits, based on reaching new high price markets and distribute the additional value accordingly. The solution will finally design the mechanism for replicability across Cyprus with the help of ARI.
Technological: Gaiasense holistic SF solution will help to increase the efficiency production and reduce costs, while making data available through the Ploutos traceability system using GS1 standards, to help with digital labelling.
Social: Gaiasense is designed especially for small farmers that have no funds for expensive equipment. NP handles the infrastructure costs and offer affordable advice at an annual subscription basis.
Organisational/Entrepreneurial: OenouYi, whose investments allow to cover both the grape and wine production, will focus on a business model achieving a final product with high quality and low environmental footprint through all the covered stages of the value chain, thus having a better product to sell and building the brand name. Taking advantage of the digital label approach and working with the exporting company, will allow them to reap additional value.
Institutional: ARI’s initiative to support the local farmers in adopting new data-driven technology solutions and new sustainable practices, is a good example of innovation push from the Policy Side, while the whole opportunity arises from a change in European regulations that demand wine producers to adapt.
Economic: Additional revenue due to higher price achieved from the digital labelling approach. Pesticides reduction using SF leads to production costs reduction, while producing a higher quality product due to less chemicals used.
Social: More profitability for the local wine producers supports the region with more money and jobs. In addition, less chemicals being used means less health issues.
Environmental: Pesticides reduction using SF leads to less chemicals in the soil and the water, and less irrigation leads to reduced water consumption.