Leading the way – Pernod Ricard Winemakers sign Biosecurity Business Pledge

Pernod Ricard Winemakers recently signed up to the pledge and were the first wine company to get on board. Tracey Marshall, Pernod Ricard’s New Zealand Sustainability Manager, said signing up to the pledge was a no-brainer. “Looking at the commitments of the pledge, everything that we were pledging to do is either what we are already doing, or should be doing anyway,” says Tracey. “Signing up to these commitments was a way of highlighting to the rest of the senior leadership team - and our whole organisation - that biosecurity is a business priority for us,” she added.

Tracey Marshall. Photo by Jim Tannock

It caught her eye because at the time Pernod Ricard was updating its transitional facility operating manual, and the business had been through some changes which meant they were receiving more international containers into Marlborough. A new operator with overall responsibility for biosecurity had come on board, and there was a need to ensure enough staff were trained as accredited persons. In the vineyard, biosecurity was reasonably well-understood; awareness material was made available to staff, and processes were in place to mitigate the risks posed by machinery and equipment movement between Pernod Ricard sites, which are widely spread across the region.

“We could be hit at multiple levels by a biosecurity incursion – a national level, affecting the whole country, an industry level, or an organisational level. We don’t want to be looking back and thinking, ‘how did that happen?’” she said.

As a result of signing the pledge Pernod Ricard has used it as a platform to raise awareness within its teams, particularly in the winery. “There is a requirement for staff awareness and training – we’ve made sure this has been strengthened in our site inductions with new staff or contractors coming on site. They get information about the fact that the site is a transitional facility, what to watch out for, what to report, how to report it, she said.”

Signing the pledge was also a prompt for Tracey to check with Pernod Ricard’s procurement team to confirm biosecurity is part of supplier agreements. “Are we actually asking the right questions with regards to biosecurity, are we assessing them on that basis? It was good to get the answer back as ‘yes’.”

Suppliers to Pernod Ricard have to meet certain supplier standards, which include a questionnaire. If a level of risk is highlighted, the supplier may be put through an EcoVadis assessment, covering sustainability, ethics, human rights, labour, and biosecurity measures, before Pernod Ricard decides to do business with them.

On the vineyard front, signing the pledge has prompted a review of Pernod Ricard’s biosecurity-related processes. “We have procedures around just about everything,” Tracey explains. “Whether it’s the movement of vehicles, traceability, or monitoring and reporting. We’ve got posters up in our staff amenities for awareness, but are they current? When did we last put our vineyard operators through basic biosecurity awareness training? Does that training include new and emerging risks?

We are re-looking at everything we are doing, ensuring it’s fit for purpose and up to date. It’s been quite timely to have a good look at how we are actually performing here.”

Thanks to NZ Winegrower Magazine for permission to reproduce some of the original article/interview which can be found in the June-July online edition.