Tequila is an unstoppable industry. Despite the many obstacles imposed by 2020 on all industries, this drink had an unexpected success. As reported by Merca 2.0 on this past 4th of May, tequila exports were expected to be unsatisfying, but “this industry reached a volume of 286.7 million liters, 16.2 percent higher than in 2019, representing the highest increase recorded by the industry in the last 14 years and the largest volume exported abroad ever recorded.”
But success comes with responsibilities and the tequila industry knows that if it wants to continue on the rise, production must be sustainable. There’s no other way.
Tequila will become the first deforestation-free alcoholic beverage.
Despite the fact that tequila has a designation of origin, foreign companies have copied production methods to the detriment of Mexican companies. For this reason, the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT), the National Chamber of the Tequila Industry (CNIT) and the Government of the State of Jalisco have just launched the Environmental Responsible Agave (ARA) certification. This means that producers who guarantee that the planting and harvesting of their agave plants (which have to grow for at least three years to produce their nectar) does not cause damage to the environment, nor that land is cleared for production. This is a huge step both for the industry and for environmental preservation.
Areas of Jalisco that are ideal for agriculture will be identified.
To launch the ARA certification, the government of Jalisco determined the best lands for agriculture that do not affect the existing ecosystems. Three million hectares were determined to be ideal for producing agave.
During the launch of the certification, the governor of the state, Enrique Alfaro, said that “Tequila will be the first alcoholic beverage in the world that will have the certification of being free of deforestation, we made that commitment in 2019 in Madrid and I believe and insist that we should be very proud that we can attend the COP26 in Glasgow this next November with the complete results reflecting the level of commitment we have with this agenda.”
There have been efforts to move the tequila industry towards sustainability, the only road to the blue agave’s survival.
Certification is not, however, the first effort to set the industry on a sustainable path. In 2017, the Mural de Guadalajara newspaper reported that the companies Tequila Cascahuín, Siete Leguas and Tequila Tapatío participated in a pilot program that consists of leaving “5 percent of their plantation for natural pollination, which represents an investment of about 80 thousand pesos.”
The tequila plantation is created by planting the suckers of the mother agave (those who have cacti or succulents at home will understand this process well), which affects the diversity of the plant. If weber tequilana blue agave, the basis for tequila, does not reproduce naturally, then there will simply be no more tequila. And nobody wants that to happen. Other tequila brands, such as Mijenta, seek sustainability in other aspects such as packaging, labeling and the preservation of the land.