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Consumer campaign makes tea industry more transparent

Typhoo has become the final ‘big 6’ tea brand to publish its list of tea suppliers in Assam – marking the end of secrecy in the UK tea sector.

The move completes the transformation of the UK tea industry in response to the ‘Who picked my tea?’ campaign led by Traidcraft Exchange and supported by anti-slavery organisation Freedom United.

“Typhoo’s tea declaration means that we now know where the vast majority of the tea we drink in the UK comes from,” said Mary Milne, Head of Campaigns & Communications for Traidcraft Exchange.

Before the ‘Who picked my tea?’ campaign was launched in May 2018 none of the UK’s biggest tea brands disclosed where they bought their tea from. Yet in less than a year Yorkshire Tea, Twinings, Tetley, Clipper, PG Tips, and now Typhoo, brands which together make up about 67% of the UK tea market, have felt compelled to respond to public pressure.

The campaign focused on tea grown in Assam because pay and conditions for workers there are amongst the worst in the world and tea grown in Assam is a key ingredient in many English Breakfast blends and speciality teas consumed in the UK.

‘Who picked my tea?’ is an example of a consumer campaign that changed the way the big tea brands do business.

More than fifteen thousand people wrote to the big 6 UK tea brands asking them to publish the full list of tea estates they buy from in Assam whilst hundreds took part in ‘Who picked my tea? On tour’ in public events across the UK. 

In less than a year the tea sector has moved from a situation of complete silence over sourcing to become one of the most transparent business sectors in the UK, enabling consumers to track the tea they drink from leaf to cup.

“The challenge now is to make sure all this new information drives change on the ground in Assam. To this end we will continue to work with local groups in Assam so that they can use this information in their struggle for better pay and conditions,” concluded Mary Milne.

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