Familia Torres from sustainability to regenerative agriculture

Producción científica: Estudio de caso


At the beginning of 2022, when the pandemic was finally coming to an end, the challenge for Familia Torres was defining a sustainability strategy for the future. Although Familia Torres had been actively working since 2008 to mitigate and adapt to climate change through its Torres & Earth program, future scenarios presented serious challenges for the company. This meant that Familia Torres had to search for new terroirs at higher altitudes to find the right balance of heat during the day and cold at night in order to achieve a quality wine. They also strived to recover local ancestral strains resilient to these new climate scenarios. The threat of water scarcity loomed over the vineyards, as well as other ecological risks, such as the systematic loss of soil quantity and quality due to erosion, which reduced its productivity. In this scenario, Miguel Torres Mackassek brought into discussion an emerging trend, called regenerative agriculture, that went beyond the concept of sustainability of "reducing harm", which already had been proved successful in several small-scale wine production companies. Regenerative agriculture proposed practices diametrically opposed to conventional agriculture, with the promise of regenerating soils, recovering biodiversity and the local water cycle, increasing the resilience and productivity of the land. By doing so, it also recovered the capacity of soil to absorb carbon, which would help mitigate climate change. This "beyond sustainability" strategy was presented as a hopeful one, which focused on reversing climate change from the local sphere of action, and that was consistent with the family motto "the more we care for earth, the better our wine". However, this promising strategy implied many uncertainties. From a commercial perspective, it was not clear how it would affect production, how it would be articulated with the commercial strategy, or whether consumers would know how to appreciate the product. From an ecological perspective, it was unclear how much carbon would be absorbed, and for how long. The Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the company's results. Sales felt the effects of the fall in tourism and the closure of hotels and restaurants, given that the hotel, restaurant and catering sector accounted for 50% of the company's sales in Spain. Although the sales had increased to pre-pandemic figures by 2022 (around €255 million a year), the company believed that the consequences of this crisis would continue to be felt for at least another two years, and that the Ukrainian war would also bring consequences. On the other hand, major family businesses in the wine sector, also located in the Penedès region, had recently been acquired by international groups and investment funds. In light of this situation, the Familia Torres management team asked themselves whether they should maintain the strategy of going "beyond sustainability" or they should consider strategies more consistent with the mainstream approach to climate resilient viticulture (such as the genetic improvement of grapes, or transferring vines to colder areas). As the long-term approach typical of the wine industry calls for, the results of the strategy Familia Torres was to decide on would be seen in the following decades. Did they have enough economic strength to work on a long-term sustainability strategy? Or should they be less ambitious and delay their sustainability regenerative efforts? The family's fifth generation dreamt of the company remaining under the ownership of the Familia Torres. Just after celebrating 150 years of company history, this decision was their main challenge for the future.
Idioma originalInglés
EstadoPublicada - 1 abr 2022


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