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Havana Club CEO reveals sustainability goals

The CEO of Pernod Ricard-owned Havana Club rum has unveiled the brand’s latest green initiatives and how the company is benefitting communities in Cuba.

Havana Club
Havana Club revealed its initiatives taking place in Cuba to become greener and support the community

From its recent partnership with Ecospirits, to its reusing of distillery residue, Havana Club is moving towards a greener future. CEO of Havana Club International Christian Barré shared more on the firm’s ongoing schemes to The Spirits Business.

“Being produced on the island of Cuba, you have specific environmental constraints,” he explained.

Barré has worked with Pernod Ricard since 2003

“We do participate with the government, informing them about the upcoming projects we have. One of the projects we have going on is the way we use the residue of the distillation. We are trying to use this as food for animals, as it’s quite complicated for farmers to get food and fertilisers.

“So, we work with them to help them use this as an alternative to food for animals, or mix it to make a fertiliser. We have invested in small tanks that we fill with residue and take to the fields, because the farmers do not have the resources to import animal feed.

“We need to invest in things that aren’t part of our core business, but if you want to be part of solving the issue, you do this.”

Pernod Ricard revealed its 2030 Sustainability and Responsibility plan in 2019, with its targets aiming to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Barré said: “We have removed the plastic inserts of the bottles, and we have changed or eliminated the cardboard boxes – we have adjusted them to make them recyclable.

“It’s hard to say how we compare with other companies. There is no international benchmark to compare one to the other, but what’s important are the initiatives we put in place, and that you really believe that we are making a difference for you – this is what we’re trying to do.”

Havana Club
The rum brand’s distillery in Havana, Cuba
Contribution to the community

Apolline Celeyron, head of public affairs, communications and corporate social responsibility for Havana Club at Pernod Ricard, shared more on the brand’s commitment to the Cuban community.

“Sustainability has always been a part of Havana Club’s DNA,” she said.

“So, there’s always been some sort of commitment to the environment or the community, communities are super important here in Cuba. It’s all about what your neighbour does, whether you can help or lend something that might be useful.

“What we want to emphasise is that in the Cuban state of mind everything is repurposed. And, we just want to participate in that dynamic where you do more with less. You will find so much stuff sold in Havana Club bottles that have nothing to do with Havana Club, like honey, tomato sauce and fruit juice.

“In Cuba, supply is short. Every resource is super precious. Cuba being an island… there’s a special mindset on an island, neighbouring countries aren’t here to help you. They are being really careful about the impact of climate change.”

Havana Club
Havana Club produces age-statement rum, including 3, 7 and 15 years
Responsible drinking initiatives

“We want to make sure we can roll out sustainability and responsibility projects, promoting responsible drinking, what it means to drink alcohol,” said Celeyron. “Here, the parqueros wear Havana Club jackets that read ‘if you drink, you don’t drive’.”

The rum brand is also rolling out programmes to teach teens how to refuse alcohol. There are also programmes taking place educating pregnant women on why they shouldn’t drink, which is “taken for granted” in Europe and Asia, according to Celeyron.

Celeyron also expressed the importance of redistributing the distillate residue from rum production in Cuba.

“A lot of what people eat and use is imported. The money that was once put towards animal feed can be redirected into something that might be more needed by families – maybe towards food or medicine,” she said.

“Right now it’s small scale, but we want to take it further. Cattle is super important.”

The firm is also installing solar panels on the roof of the state-of-the-art San José distillery, which will allow them to generate 70% of distillery’s electricity consumption and distribute electricity generated on-site to neighbouring communities for free.

Earlier this month, a new report analysed how drinks brands’ sustainability efforts impact buying behaviour, revealing that 56% of consumers consider a company’s green credentials when choosing a bottle to purchase.

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