The Tabasco® brand is known across the globe as a symbol of Louisiana food and culture. Now, the leader of the family company that produces the famous hot pepper sauce is being lauded as a symbol of the effort to save Louisiana itself.
Paul McIlhenny, chairman and CEO of the McIlhenny Co. (above left), was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from America’s Wetland Foundation, the New Orleans-based nonprofit created to raise awareness of the state’s rapidly disintegrating coastline.
McIlhenny is a founding member of the foundation, but the group’s chairman, R. King Milling, says his commitment to protecting Louisiana’s coast and the culture it sustains reaches much farther.
“For many generations, going back almost two centuries, the McIlhennys have been coastal restoration advocates and have taken extraordinary efforts to conserve some of the most critical areas of America’s wetland,” Milling said.
McIlhenny is the fourth generation in his family to run the McIlhenny Co. from Avery Island, a salt dome “island” set in the coastal plains of Iberia Parish. In addition to their company’s headquarters and factory, the family has also maintained Avery Island with lush gardens open to visitors and rookeries and wildlife areas for native species. The company’s operations also reflect progressive environmental thinking, with the use of recyclable glass for bottling and the composting of hundreds of tons of pepper seeds and skins each year.
The choice of a conversation-minded business leader for the group’s award is no coincidence, since America’s Wetland Foundation strives to show how the environmental imperative of coastal restoration can be good for business as well.
“The foundation has made setting a balanced table its priority, knowing that our challenges are far too great for separate interests to prevail,” Milling said. “Everyone should be at the table when we discuss the relationship of environmental and economic security. It’s good for business to help shape our regional voice at the critical time, and this is where it happens.”
The McIlhenny Co. sells Tabasco®-brand products in some 165 countries around the world, using 22 different languages and dialects on its packaging.
That packaging will soon also include promotional messages for America’s Wetland Foundation, asking consumers to support the group’s restoration efforts.