Twin brothers Jacques and Olivier Barreau make shipping more sustainable with their transatlantic cargo sailboat, Grain de Sail. It provides lower-carbon, sustainable shipping for sustainability-produced organic wine and chocolate.
Twice a year, the boat takes a three-month journey from France to New York to the Caribbean; you can track the boat’s progress on the company website. This path creates a sustainable, cost-effective loop allowing the products to be both produced and shipped in a circular pattern. This process is an innovative and logical approach to the supply chain with a promising future.
“We operate dedicated and direct routes for high-value-added products with relatively small ships that can operate fully by sail,” said Matthieu Riou, Grain de Sail’s wine director. “Thinking holistically, we seek to provide sustainable shipping for sustainably produced products from far away in an eco-responsible manner, reducing transportation’s carbon footprint.”
The Grain de Sail’s journey begins on the coast of Brittany, France with 18,000 bottles of biodynamic French wines and 450 organic chocolate bars. It crosses the Atlantic to Brooklyn, NY, where it delivers the wines and fine chocolates to restaurants and retailers. After New York, the boat heads south to the Dominican Republic, where it picks up coffees and organic cocoa beans for the return home to France.
“One hundred years ago, all of cargo shipping was made with boats with sails,” he added. “We didn’t reinvent anything; we just tried to show that it is still possible to do it with cargo sailboats with safety, security, and with all of the technology we have now too.”
The boat was built to be sustainable.
The $1.5-million schooner is 72 feet long and looks much like a regatta-style sailboat. It’s made of lightweight aluminum for durability and ease of motion and features solar, wind, and hydro generators for power.
The Grain de Sail is the first for the Barreau team, who plan to develop two more boats, allowing their fleet to transport more than 12,000 tons of cargo.
The project is proving to be both financially and ecologically beneficial. Last year, the company made more than $8 million, with next year’s projection closer to $17 million. With plans to build a coffee roasting and chocolate manufacturing facility in New York City and to include limited-edition luxury wines — current ones are mid-range — it’s clear that the Grain de Sail’s journey is just beginning.