Fairtrade just made your tea even better!

17 September 2010

The 2010 Global Tea Project for Fairtrade achieves an important milestone today with the publication of revised Tea Standards. The project is the largest participatory review of Fairtrade Standards for camellia teas*  to date and aims to create new sales opportunities and increased volumes for Fairtrade tea producers worldwide.

Updating the Fairtrade Minimum Prices and addressing barriers to future growth became a priority due to the rising cost of production and fluctuating exchange rates. FLO took up this challenge by engaging producers, traders and experts from around the world in the project.

The 2010 Tea Project reviewed and revised the current Fairtrade Tea Standards for camellia teas, following the FLO Standard Unit's operating procedures on reviews, including a research and a consultation period. There were workshops for both African and Asian Fairtrade tea producers in Uganda and Calcutta, providing them with a forum to discuss key challenges and opportunities in order to agree on ways forward together.

"I think the process has been very participatory and engaging. Producers now own the outcome and feel empowered within the Fairtrade system," says Amos Thiongo, Regional Coordinator for the African Fairtrade Network (AFN) and organizer of the producer workshop in Uganda.

As part of the project FLO also organized the Tea Product Advisory Council, which was a first time ever multi-stakeholder meeting on tea. The February meeting brought together African and Asian producers as well as traders from the UK, Europe and the US, feeding valuable input into the project and bringing a fully global perspective to the work.

The revised Tea Standards have three key changes:

  • A 16% average increase in Fairtrade Minimum Prices;
  • The introduction of Fairtrade Minimum Prices for organic teas (where a conventional Fairtrade Minimum Price already applies).
  • Re-introduction of retro-certification, a mechanism that gives traders more flexibility and producers more opportunities to sell on Fairtrade terms.

Going forward, the consultation also resulted in many ideas on how to best promote Fairtrade tea and set the path for future growth. FLO hopes to finalise its proposed growth model by the end of 2010.

In the meantime we want to focus on how Fairtrade is making a positive impact on the lives of tea producers and their communities, with over $6m in Fairtrade Premium paid to smallholder farmers and worker committees in 2009.

As Binod Mohan, Chairman of the Network of Asian Fairtrade Producers and long time owner of tea estates in India explains; Fairtrade is the only certification system to give something back to the producers and the workers in the form of a premium, for their welfare and well-being.

For more information on these changes, click here to read the fact sheet and the revised Fairtrade Tea Standards (PDF).

*Camellia tea refers to tea made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. The main varieties are black, green and oolong tea. The review does not cover rooibos tea or herbal teas. For more details on Fairtrade Standards please visit  http://www.fairtrade.net/standards.html

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