11 December, 2017

Good cuppa - 10 facts about Fairtrade tea

Fresh Fairtrade tea
by Anna Galandzij for the Fairtrade Foundation

Britons drink 876 cups of tea a year! We consider the value of making those 876 cups of tea Fairtrade. 

1.The very first Fairtrade certified tea was launched by Clipper Teas in 1994. Two decades on, Clipper still works closely with its tea producers, showing it is possible for a business to offer a great product while putting the interests of people at its heart.

2. Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world, surpassed only by water. Globally, Fairtrade tea is most popular in the UK, with Brits buying over 80% of the total supply. Always choosing Fairtrade tea and coffee is a great way of supporting the farmers and workers who grow our favourite drinks.

3. Kenya is the largest producer of Fairtrade tea, followed by India. 64% of all Fairtrade tea farmers and workers live in Kenya.

4.There are currently over 392,700 people involved in Fairtrade tea, either as smallholder farmers or as workers on plantations. Fairtrade tea is farmed in 11 countries by 106 producer organisations.

2017 Fairtrade tea stats

5. Low tea prices and poor wages mean tea growing communities struggle with extreme poverty. In 2014, for instance, prices of tea in Malawi fell to $1.15 per kilo, which was below the cost of production. Those who sold on Fairtrade terms earned at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price of $1.40 per kilo, which acts as a safety net by covering their average production cost.

6. With Fairtrade, tea producers also receive the Fairtrade Premium of $0.50 for every kilo of tea sold. In 2017, tea farmers and estate workers earned €5.3m in Premiums. Workers on tea estates invested almost half their Premium fund in housing, education and healthcare. For small-scale farmers investment priorities include putting resources into better farming so they can earn more money from their crops, education, clean water and health clinics for the community. Watch this video of farmers in Kenya and Tanzania talking about the impact of the Premium on their lives.

Maheve Secondary School, 520 students, has benefited from the Fairtrade Premium from Kibena Tea Estate in Tanzania, which has built four classrooms, two laboratories, two staff quarters and two hostels that house 120 students. Copyrights Simon Rawles

7. The average size of a Fairtrade tea farmer’s plot in East Africa is just 0.4 hectares. By comparison, the average size of a family farm in the UK is 50 hectares.

8. The climate crisis is increasingly affecting tea growing regions. Through projects such as ADAPTea, Fairtrade supports tea producers to adapt to changing weather patterns. “The experience showed that knowledge is power,” says Victor Biwot from Kenyan cooperative Sireet OEP, which has run an extensive reforestation project to provide shade to tea bushes and improve soil fertility.

9. Fairtrade is working to achieve better impacts for tea workers through its own Fairtrade Hired Labour Standard and by contributing to industry-wide initiatives, such as Malawi 2020 and Tea 2030. One of the current pieces of work being carried out by Fairtrade is how to introduce a living wage for workers on plantations and to empower them to directly negotiate better pay and working conditions. In this video workers at Kibena Tea Estate in Tanzania share their views on Fairtrade.

10. Currently, there are more than 400 Fairtrade-certified tea products in the UK, including: everyday and premium; white, green and infusions; decaf and organic. The range – in flavour, quality, and price – is astounding.

Find out more about Fairtrade tea farmers

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When you buy Fairtrade tea, farmers and workers can bring greater security, equality and opportunity to the lives of their families and communities – and that’s just for starters.

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