Fairtrade tea

About Fairtrade tea

Just as we are dependent on it to get through a hard day’s work, millions of farmers and workers around the world depend on tea for their living. China has 80 million tea growers, India has an estimated million permanent tea workers and double the number of seasonal tea labourers and tea supports the livelihoods of an estimated 3 million people in Kenya. While the bulk of global tea is produced on large plantations or estates, tea is also grown on small plots of land by smallholder farmers who sell their freshly-plucked green leaf to plantations or tea factories for processing into black tea. In India for instance, while the average size of a smallholder tea farm is around 1.25 hectares, the average size of a tea plantation is 250 hectares. 

How does Fairtrade support tea growers and workers?

Fairtrade works with both small-scale tea farmers and workers on tea plantations. There are currently 177,000 tea farmers and 128,000 tea workers participating in Fairtrade. Fairtrade Standards are designed to improve employment conditions and protect the rights of workers on plantations and to support members of smallholder organisations in gaining more control within the tea supply chains and increase their incomes.

How does Waitrose support Fairtrade tea?

As well as stocking Fairtrade tea, Waitrose has worked with its supplier Ringtons and an NGO, the Lorna Young Foundation, to improve quality, yields and access to training for tea producers in Tanzania, which in 2014, was the third largest source of Tea for Waitrose.

In March 2014, the project ‘Upscaling Sustainable Tea Production in Tanzania’ was launched. Under this project, we conducted a baseline assessment of 238 farmers in 108 villages covering socio-economic background, farm resources, livelihoods, agricultural practices and challenges faced by farmers.

This information was used to develop a one year radio programme (48 radio shows of 15 minutes) which provided farming advice on the agricultural calendar. We established a partnership with Kyela FM, a local radio station with an audience reach of 2 million people. The station had in-depth experience of developing socio-economic, agricultural and current affairs programmes and was a designated partner for the BBC.

As a result of the programme there has been an increase in tea planting in the region, with around 220 farmers contacting the show per month asking questions on the programmes content via sms.

Shop fairtrade tea

Waitrose 100% Fairtrade speciality teas use mostly traditional whole leaf grades of tea to achieve a range of
unique blends.