Unilever publishes tea supply chain

13 February 2019

Unilever has published a full list of its tea suppliers, becoming one of five tea brands to do so.

The company said it was the biggest tea buyer globally and the list includes suppliers in India, Indonesia, Japan, Tanzania and Sri Lanka.

“As the biggest buyer of tea across the world, we are committed to continuing to make our tea supply chain more sustainable,” said Unilever.

“We know we can’t transform the tea supply chain on our own. We therefore collaborate closely with many partners, including our suppliers, NGOs and local and national governments.”

In 2017 the company became a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, a not-for-profit organisation that brings together the world’s most influential tea businesses to create more sustainable tea industry.

For Unilever brands PG Tips, Liptons, Scottish Blend, Pure Leaf and Lyons, sold in the UK and Ireland, 100% of tea comes from Rainforest Alliance certified farms.

Unilever’s tea is sourced from around the world but the company’s own plantations in Kenya and Tanzania supply much of the product, it said.

“The rest we buy directly from large tea producers, auctions or via brokers,” said Unilever.

Yorkshire Tea became the first major tea brand to publish a list of suppliers in June last year after a Traidcraft Exchange campaign “Who Picked My Tea?” put pressure on tea brands. Tetley, Clipper and Twinings followed suit.

This was after an investigation by Traidcraft Exchange discovered “appalling” conditions for workers growing tea in Assam in India.

The NGO said none of the UK’s biggest brands disputed “our central findings of poverty wages and appalling conditions for workers on tea estates”.

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