Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Every year we sell over ten thousand tonnes of tea, from our Gold and Red Label blends to our speciality single origin teas from Assam and Ceylon. Generally, tea is produced on either large estates or smallholder farms across Eastern Africa and Asia and is blended together into the products we sell.
There are several sustainability challenges facing global tea production, including biodiversity loss, soil erosion and low incomes for people employed within the industry. We are working closely with recognised schemes to ensure that tea producers within our supply chains receive adequate training and support in these key areas, helping to secure a sustainable future for tea producers around the world.
We source 100% of our own brand black, green and rooibos tea from either UTZ, Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance third-party certification schemes. We recognise the social and environmental challenges facing tea production, and although we sell a small amount in comparison to the global output, we are committed to doing what we can to promote sustainable production, whether that means working towards higher wages with our certification schemes, or working with the wider industry to address more systemic issues.
We are committed to sourcing 100% of our black, green and rooibos tea from UTZ, Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certified sustainable sources.
As part of our commitment to greater transparency, we have worked with our suppliers to better understand our Knightsbridge Gold Label Tea supply chain. The data we disclose includes country and regional level information, as well as worker numbers and gender breakdown.
Kenya Tea Human Rights Impact Assessment
As part of our human rights due diligence approach we committed to conducting Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs) to better understand the impact of our business operations on human rights issues within key commodity streams. Through our annual high level supply chain risk assessment tea was identified as a high risk raw material and further analysis identified Kenya as a key source for certified tea, not only for Lidl but also as an export market into Europe.
Through our HRIA, which followed internationally recognised methodologies, we were able to access rights holders from across the Kenyan tea value chain, from smallholder farmers and tea estate workers, to supply chain representatives and key Lidl staff. This has allowed us to improve our understanding of gender, small-holder producer organisations and the structure of the tea producing economy in Kenya for the UK market. Through the publication of a full report and time-bound action plan, we will outline the steps we will take to mitigate salient human rights risks identified through this process.
Supporting Women in the Kenyan Tea Sector
Our tea suppliers are taking important steps to support women working within the tea sector, putting interventions in place to tackle discrimination within the workplace. Initiatives introduced include female management trainee programmes, leadership training and apprenticeships, gender equality training and school mentorship programmes. We engage closely with our suppliers to understand the progress they are making on their initiatives and consider opportunities to enhance or develop these further.
SUPPORTING FAIRTRADE TEA PRODUCERS
It is estimated that over 390,000 farmers and workers produce Fairtrade tea across 11 countries. The challenges workers face vary depending on the tea growing location, however many face low wages, long working hours and lack of access to basic needs such as housing, healthcare and education.
Our commitment to sourcing Fairtrade certified tea supports smallholder producers by setting a minimum price, based on the sustainable cost of production, for the tea that we buy. This price acts as a safety net for smallholder farmers against volatile market prices. In addition to this, a Fairtrade Premium is provided directly to producer organisations for them to invest as they see fit, be it in education, healthcare facilities for their communities or training for workers.