British tea company Clipper is the latest brand to reveal its list of Indian suppliers amid a global campaign by Traidcraft Exchange and Freedom United to improve transparency and labor conditions in the state of Assam.
It is the fourth tea company to publicly reveal its suppliers of Assam black tea, following in the footsteps of Twinings, Tetley, and Yorkshire Tea.
What makes Clipper’s disclosure different is that it is the most detailed of the four, including names and addresses of all estates listed.
“We believe that providing transparency on where we source our tea from will help build a more sustainable supply chain by empowering all stakeholders in the tea industry,” said Rebecca Vercoe, Clipper Teas brand controller.
Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:
Big brands are facing mounting regulatory and consumer pressure to ensure the workforce in their supply chains are paid fair wages, have access to health facilities and are guaranteed other benefits in accordance with existing labour laws.
“We recognise the size of the challenge but by sharing this information we hope to show how important it is to work only with progressive tea estates who look to improve the quality of life for their workers and their families,” Vercoe said in an emailed response to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“We also hope it will give tea drinkers a greater understanding of the value of tea.”
Anirudha Nagar from San Francisco-based charity Accountability Counsel said the publishing of supplier lists was a “step forward in the struggle for better living and working conditions for Assam tea workers.” The NGO has backed a complaint to the World Bank concerning poor working conditions on Assam tea plantations owned by World Bank and Tata Group, known as Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited.
“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,” added Fiona Gooch, senior policy adviser for Traidcraft Exchange.
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How about such Canadian brands as Red Rose (Brooke Bond) or Salada? Glad both Tetleys and Yorkshire have come clean.