Typhoo claim all their tea is fair trade even if isn't 'fair trade'

A while ago I sent an email (scroll down) to Typhoo using the Facebook Superbadger App. I got this interesting reply which basically says, ‘we’re the good guys – all our products are fair and certifying them fair trade wouldn’t make any difference.’ I think. What’s your take on it?

“I am writing with regards to your recent correspondence requesting that Typhoo become a Fair-trade labelled tea. We fully understand your concerns and would like to highlight that, whilst Typhoo wholeheartedly support the Fair-trade movement and would endorse any initiatives that ensure that tea workers situations are improved, we actually operate differently from all of our competitors in how we source tea.

At Typhoo tea, we are committed to ensuring that we trade fairly with all the tea estates that we buy tea from. We are uniquely placed in the Tea industry and demonstrate our commitment through trading fairly with tea estates in two ways; firstly to support the Fair-trade foundation by using Fair-trade tea with our Ridgways brand; secondly to use our Typhoo certification scheme to monitor the tea gardens we buy from are continuously improving fair labour standards (measured against the ETI base code), health & safety, quality and food safety, and sustainable environmental practices.

An example of how our certification scheme works is in the Makandi estate in Malawi where we have worked closely with the estate to deliver significant benefits including the introduction of terms and conditions for workers, greater wage transparency, improvements to housing, sanitation and access to water, as well as a focus on the elimination of discrimination against women and illegal disciplinary practices.

Over the next 12 months we intend to double the number of Fair-trade products we sell, clearly demonstrating our commitment to the Fair-trade organisation for the long term. However, we also believe that our customers should be allowed the opportunity to freely choose between Fair-trade accredited products and standard products, which is why we offer both.

In addition to this, you have probably noticed recently on our packs that we are working very closely with the Federation of Disability Sport. We have developed a Typhoo Sports for All programme with them that provides community sports coaches with a qualification giving them the skills necessary to included disabled people in their coaching sessions. So far we have trained 1000 coaches across the whole of the UK which has given thousands of disabled people the opportunity to take part in the sports and games they love. So, you can see, that not only do we work closely with tea plantation workers around the globe; we carry out some very worthwhile activities closer to home too.

Yours sincerely

The Typhoo Team”

Here’s the email I sent…

“Over 20 million people in developing countries rely on the tea industry for their livelihoods. But it is small-scale farmers and workers who benefit the least from it. Many lead extremely hard lives, doing physically demanding work for inadequate rewards and unacceptably low pay.

As a major producer of tea in the UK, I believe that Typhoo have the power to help tackle this injustice.
I welcome your recent announcement committing Typhoo to doubling the number of Fairtrade products sold over the next year, but I believe you could go further.

Fairtrade is the only system that guarantees farmers a fair price for their products, whilst also helping communities to develop in a sustainable way. Making the entire Typhoo brand Fairtrade would show that you are serious about bringing real and lasting change to many more tea pickers, small-scale tea farmers, their families and communities, and signal that you are committed to striving for the best possible practice in your supply chain.”


An interesting reply from Typhoo!

I am sure they own/are in the same group as the Makandi estate in Malawi so they should be doing many of these things anyway as the are colleagues as well as suppliers! I also think the estate is Fairtrade certifed so many areas again will have been the requirement of Fairtrade certfication!

As for there certification being comparable does it require a minimum prices is paid for the tea and a premium paid to the workers for their own use – i.e Fairtrade, I would be surprised.

That’s interesting – so are you saying they’re using the same estate for both fairtrade and non-fairtrade products? how did you get your facts Steve, I’d love to be able to check stuff out, it’s so hard trying to sift through stuff to get to the truth and be confident of it.

Yes – I badgered them too on this and had the same (standard, no doubt) response. Not very convincing! ‘We think it’s great but we don’t want to sign up to it but we’re doing it all anyway’ kind of thing. Fairtrade is Fairtrade certified – like being pregnant – you can’t be a bit Fairtrade!

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