Tea, the beverage that plays an important cultural role in countries as diverse as Turkey, China, Russia and the UK, faces an uncertain future. It is grown in some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, faces competition for land from other crops, decreasing availability and higher costs of key resources such as energy and water and has to cope with rapidly changing markets.
The challenges that tea faces are simply too big for one for one organisation to tackle alone. If the tea sector is to thrive in a sustainable manner it needs to work jointly across the value chain to tackle these challenges.
What we did
Tea 2030 has drawn together the companies responsible for the majority of the world tea market, committed to forging a sustainable future for tea. The Tea 2030 coalition includes certifiers, producers and packers who initially came together to forge a better understanding of what the future holds for tea and are now working together to develop solutions to some of the challenges it faces.
To date, our Tea 2030 project has created a set of challenges that you can see on our mini-website. We have developed a set of scenarios for what the future might hold for tea and used that information to highlight some key principles that the tea sector needs to embrace for a sustainable future. We have also produced a set of recommendations for further work that the tea sector needs to undertake – either companies acting alone and sharing their knowledge or organisations acting together.
Our vision is for tea to become a hero crop by 2030, which means that the tea sector does not just deliver ‘tea’ the commodity, but it does so in an environmentally and socially responsible way.
Currently, we have working groups exploring the actions that the tea sector needs to take across its value network. These include:
Sustainable landscapes. A landscapes approach focusing on the issues that a particular tea growing area faces rather than trying to superimpose a pre-determined set of challenges. This group is exploring the business rationale for this approach and what it means for tea;
Market mechanisms. This group is exploring how the market can help deliver a sustainable tea sector including the role for a futures market;
Engaging consumers. This group is exploring how the tea sector can collectively engage with consumers.
The Tea 2030 partners include Ethical Tea Partnership, Fairtrade International, IDH – the Sustainable Trade Initiative, James Finlay, Rainforest Alliance, S&D Coffee and Tea, Starbucks, Unilever, Tata Global Beverages and Yorkshire Tea, and they are supported by the International Tea Committee.
To date we have reached audiences globally through social media and conferences to communicate the challenges that the sector faces. Companies have used these challenges to develop their own sustainability action plans. We have released the scenarios, principles and recommendations which we hope will encourage and inspire future action in our special report.
“We must work with all the key stakeholders to explore all the major factors that might influence and shape the future sustainability of the tea industry. This is why we are taking a leading role in the Future of Tea 2030, collaborating with others to achieve meaningful and lasting change, so that we are all around for the next 260 years.”
Ron Mathison, Group MD of James Finlay Limited
“We are proud to be part of Tea 2030 and believe this important collaboration is key to improving the livelihoods of millions of people in the sector and building a more sustainable future for tea.”
Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Unilever
Work with us
If your organisation is involved in the tea value chain, and you would like to find out more about the opportunities for and benefits of getting involved in Tea 2030, please contact Ann-Marie Brouder.
- Brewing a tasty future for tea - a blog post by Forum chief executive Sally Uren
- A network of expensive tastes - a blog post by project lead, Ann-Marie Brouder
- 19 factors driving the future of the tea industry - a blog post by project lead, Ann-Marie Brouder
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- Fashion Futures 2025 - using futures techniques to develop global scenarios for a sustainable fashion industry
- The Five Capitals - looking at the five types of sustainable capital
- Tourism 2023 - helping the travel and tourism industry plan for a sustainable future