M&S praised for tea transparency

Marks and Spencer’s decision to publish its full list of tea suppliers has been hailed as a significant breakthrough by campaigners on international development.

M&S has become the first major UK retailer to sign up to Traidcraft Exchange’s ‘Who picked my tea?’ campaign which calls on UK brands to disclose the names of estates they buy from in Assam, India.

The charity claims pay and conditions for workers in the region is 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.

M&S has added information on its tea and coffee supply chains to its interactive supply chain map, which lists the locations of all M&S supplier factories and is being extended to include raw materials.

The map now shows where all M&S’s tea and coffee producers are located, as well as key details such as how long the retailer has been working with them, the number of workers or cooperative members and where possible the percentage of females who are cooperative members.

“Marks and Spencer’s interactive map is a first for the UK tea industry. We can now see exactly where its tea comes from. And the women who pick it now know they are supplying a major British retailer,” said Fiona Gooch, senior policy adviser for Traidcraft Exchange.

The charity said M&S’s move increases the pressure on Typhoo – the final remaining ‘big 6’ tea brand yet to publish its list of suppliers. Yorkshire Tea, Twinings, Tetley, Clipper, Ringtons, and PG Tips have all disclosed their tea suppliers since the ‘Who picked my tea?’ campaign launched in May 2018.

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