By Richard Brandes, editor-in-chief
I recently attended a World Food Day event at the United Nations and learned about the good work a UN agency called IIMSAM (Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition) is doing. It appears that the blue-green algae spirulina is a ‘sustainable superfood’ that can basically grow anywhere ‘ including a vat of water ‘ and contains a rich supply of proteins, vitamins and nutrients essential for healthy living. It is a proven resource in curing malnourished children.
I was invited because Fantinel wines from the Friulia region of Italy has launched a Celebrate Life Merlot ($14.99 suggested retail) with the intent of donating $1 for every bottle sold to the IMMSAM cause. The company’s president, Marco Fantinel, is IIMSAM’s Goodwill Ambassador from Italy, and he told me he hoped to raise up to $200,000 in the coming year through this program.
This experience got me thinking about the beverage alcohol industry and its wonderful record of charitable giving, which is publicized far too little.
For example, the Anheuser-Busch Foundation has donated more than $370 million over the past decade to philanthropic causes, which include education, health care and human services, environmental conservation, and other areas.
Virtually every major spirits company also quietly donates significant resources to a wide range of charities. Brown-Forman, for example, gave $7.4 million in its 2008 fiscal year, focusing on a range of programs in the Louisville community. For its part, Beam Global Spirits and Wine donates hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to worthy causes through its Angel’s Share program. Support goes to various hunger relief organizations as well as larger organizations such as United Way. The Diageo Foundation, which is a registered charity, has an ongoing commitment to supporting a variety of programs addressing humanitarian needs in developing countries. Absolut Vodka responded to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina with a $2 million donation to the Gulf area raised from the sale of its special, limited-edition bottling, Absolut New Orleans.
According to the Wine Institute, all California wineries contributed a total of approximately $115 million in 2006 to all types of charitable causes. A recent effort includes the seventh Sutter Home Capsules for Hope program, which supports breast cancer research, treatment and education, up to $100,000 each year. Click Wine Group and the p.i.n.k. Spirits Company are also supporters of breast cancer research.
But these are just a handful of examples from the scores of beverage alcohol companies that give generously to support charitable organizations. Indeed, the one we’re most familiar with is Sky Ranch for Boys, which has been termed the unofficial charity of the beverage alcohol industry since the 1960s. The facility has served as a beacon of hope for troubled youth, who are able to rehabilitate themselves under proper counseling and a wholesome environment.
This year, the Sky Ranch Foundation is holding its annual fundraising dinner in conjunction with the Cheers Beverage Conference in Miami, FL. [Cheers is the on-premise sister publication of Beverage Dynamics.] The dinner, on January 19, is being hosted by Bacardi USA in its Miami headquarters. For more information on Sky Ranch or the event, contact Duncan Cameron at 540-891-7201 or www.skyranchfoundation.org.
Especially at this time of year, it’s helpful for us all to reflect a bit on what we can give back.