Clipper sets new gold standard in transparency for Assam-sourced tea

15 November 2018

Clipper has become the fourth major UK brand to publish its list of tea suppliers in Assam – and has set new standards of transparency in doing so, according to the international development charity Traidcraft Exchange.

“Clipper’s Assam declaration is the most detailed so far with both the names and addresses of individual tea estates listed on its website. For the first time the group of secretive big UK brands – now just PG Tips and Typhoo - are in a minority and should feel under pressure to join the four who have been transparent about where their tea comes from,” said Fiona Gooch, Senior Policy Adviser for Traidcraft Exchange.

“Companies cannot fulfil their social obligations if they hide crucial information. They can either be transparent and part of the solution or they can continue to pursue secrecy and be part of the problem,” added Fiona Gooch.

The move comes in the wake of Traidcraft Exchange’s national tour to tell the truth about tea in which the British public heard directly from campaigners working on the ground in Assam about low pay and appalling conditions on tea estates in the North-East Indian state.

‘Who picked my tea? On tour’ saw public events take place in Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, and London last week.

The national tour was the latest component of the ‘Who picked my tea?’ campaign to bring about change for tea workers who are trapped in poverty in the Indian state of Assam.

More than ten thousand people so far have taken part in the Traidcraft Exchange initiative by writing to the big 6 UK tea brands asking them to publish the full list of tea estates they buy from in Assam.

Undercover investigators hired by the charity confirmed evidence of low wages and appalling conditions for the women who pick the tea we drink in the UK.

Tea grown in Assam is a key ingredient in many blends sold by UK tea companies, as well as being sold as a speciality stand-alone product.

The owners of tea estates have a legal duty to provide ‘in kind’ benefits to their workforce including housing, schools and health facilities under Indian law, as well as a cash wage.

But the Traidcraft Exchange investigation confirmed that tea workers are paid below the Assam and Indian minimum wage levels and that housing, sanitation, and health facilities are poor.

ENDS

For more information or to interview Fiona Gooch contact Tom Sharman: tom.sharman@traidcraft.org or 07757 753 318

Notes for editors:

  • Traidcraft Exchange is an international development charity which uses the power of trade to bring about lasting solutions to poverty. It runs development programmes in South Asia and Africa, works directly with businesses to improve their supply chains, and does advocacy and campaigning in the UK to promote justice and fairness in international trade. It works closely with specialist fair trade company Traidcraft plc. Traidcraft Exchange is a registered charity, no. 1048752: https://www.traidcraft.org.uk/

  • Clipper published its list of tea suppliers here: https://www.clipper-teas.com/assam/

  • Tetley published its list of tea suppliers here: https://www.tetley.co.uk/our-suppliers

  • Twinings published its list of tea suppliers here: https://sourcedwithcare.com/en/sourcing-map/ [Select ‘Tea’, then ‘India’ then ‘Our supply base’ on left hand side]

  • Bettys & Taylors Group (owners of Yorkshire Tea) became the first big company to publish its list of tea suppliers here: https://www.bettysandtaylors.co.uk/taylors-supplier-listing/#tea-suppliers

  • ‘The Estate They’re In: how the tea industry traps women in poverty in Assam’ can be downloaded here: https://www.traidcraft.org.uk/tea-report

  • Photos are available to illustrate the story – please contact Tom Sharman

  • The ‘Who picked my tea?’ campaign calls on the big UK tea brands to start being transparent about which tea estates they buy from: https://www.traidcraft.org.uk/tea

  • The ‘Big 6’ UK brands – PG Tips, Twinings, Tetley, Yorkshire, Typhoo, and Clipper – together comprise about 70% of the UK tea market with annual sales of around £500 million

Tom Sharman