A number of companies received marks against them in the Habitats & Resources category due to a lack of appropriate published policies on timber, conflict minerals, or palm oil. Others received marks under Pollution & Toxics and Animal Rights for sale of leather items, or under Genetic Engineering for selling non-organic cotton products or foods which could contain GMO ingredients.
Red Mountain instant is the one coffee brand made by Typhoo Tea, whose other tea brands include Heath & Heather, London Fruit & Herb, and Ridgeways. In 2005, one of India’s oldest tea producers, Apeejay Tea – with over 50,000 acres of tea estates – acquired Typhoo.
The Apeejay Surrendra Group also runs hotels, eateries, shipping, logistics and insurance services. It lists Typhoo on its website, but Typhoo’s accounts say the company is ultimately owned by Surrendra Holdings Inc., registered in Panama. Panama slipped off our list of top tax havens when we applied a new rationale using the Tax Justice Network’s ‘Financial Secrecy Index’ (FSI) launched in 2011. However, Panama does appear on the FSI. (See our Tea Report)
In May 2015, Douwe Egberts entered into a joint venture with Mondelez International, the spin-off from Kraft Foods, to create Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) in an attempt to rival coffee giant Nescafé.
Mondelez owns 44% of the new company, with the other 56% owned by Acorn Holdings, an investor group led by JAB Holdings, which also owns Coty, the self-appointed ‘global beauty leader’ featuring in this issue’s Perfume guide. It is this connection that gives the JDE coffee brands, mainly on the instant coffee table, the lowest ranking under Animal Testing and Animal Rights. JDE brands include Douwe Egberts, Kenco and Maxwell House. They are rumoured to be selling off Carte Noire and Café Hag.
Twinings is part of Associated British Foods, which is 55% owned by Wittington Investments Ltd, which is, in turn, 79% owned by the Garfield Weston Foundation. Willard Garfield Weston was a Canadian businessman who created Associated British Foods.
Wittington Investments also owns Fortnum & Mason, while ABF owns Primark, as well as Jordans & Ryvita, Pataks, Sunblest, Kingsmill, and Silver Spoon. Whittard was founded over 100 years ago in London, but more recently was part of Icelandic supermarket group Bauger, until it collapsed after the 2008 financial crisis. Whittard was then taken over by EPE Special Opportunities, an investment fund of EPIC Private Equity (EPE). EPE Special Opportunities is incorporated in the Isle of Man and EPIC has offices in Hong Kong and Guernsey, all of which are considered likely to be used for tax avoidance purposes.
Percol, launched in the late 1980s by an ex-advertising executive, was bought by the Swedish Lofberg family in 2013. Percol claims to hold the title of the first single-origin Fairtrade coffee, while the Lofberg Group claims to be one of the world’s largest importers of organic and Fairtrade labelled coffee. Percol’s first customer was Sainsbury’s, and it now supplies all the major supermarkets.
Clipper was established in 1984 by a couple in Dorset who became involved in the early stages of development of the Fairtrade Foundation. In 2012 Clipper was bought by Dutch company Wessanen which also owns well-known health food brands Kallo and Whole Earth.
See the ethical shopping guide to ground coffee