We all love tea

Tea is enjoyed around the world. It has a huge economic and social significance, supporting the lives and wellbeing of millions of people, and yet, its future is uncertain. The tea industry faces unprecedented challenges; it is grown in some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, it faces competition for land, as well as higher costs of key resources, such as energy and water, and must cope with changing consumer habits and changing trade patterns. The future of tea, as we know it, is at risk.

We want to deliver a sustainable tea industry, from crop to cup. To do that, we need the cooperation and collaboration of everyone working across the tea industry, from pickers and packers, to producers and purchasers. Put simply, the challenges facing tea are too big for one organisation to handle alone.

Enter Tea 2030

Led and facilitated by Forum for the Future, Tea 2030 brings together the leading organisations from across the sector to collaborate and help create a sustainable future for tea. Tea 2030 is formed of organisations representing the full breadth of the sector, including commercial businesses, NGOs, trade associations and academics. We are identifying the major challenges affecting tea and developing innovative solutions that will build a successful and sustainable sector across the globe.

But we don’t want to just save tea, we believe there is great potential to go further and to make tea a ‘hero crop’ – one that doesn’t just become a great product for years to come, but one that also helps to secure livelihoods and landscapes and that builds a deeper connection between producers and consumers. We want every cup of tea to better the lives of the people who produce it, improve the environment where it is grown, and contribute to a thriving global industry. To be a hero crop we need to recognise the contribution that everyone – at every stage of the tea supply chain – can bring.

The story so far

Since Tea 2030 was formed in 2013, we have made considerable progress. Having identified all the different social, economic and environmental trends facing the future of tea, we produced a report outlining four possible futures for tea and the challenges we need to overcome to ensure the best of those futures is realised. (You can read this report via the link to the right).

This report revealed three focus areas, which we refer to as our three ‘collaboration platforms’, from which to drive progress – these are looking at Sustainable Landscapes (helping growers focus on the most relevant environmental and social issues to deliver tangible benefits to local communities), Market Mechanisms (ensuring value creation for all those involved in the industry) and Engaging Consumers (building awareness of the need for sustainable tea amongst those with the purchase power). We have started building programmes that will address these areas, including creating a toolkit to be used at a local landscape level and setting up a producer group in East Africa. Members of Tea 2030 are collaborating on these and a range of other projects, sharing knowledge and implementing new innovative approaches, to bring the three platforms to life.

We want to share our knowledge with as many people who will listen. To date, we have reached audiences globally, through social media and conferences, communicating the challenges that the sector faces and the solutions we have identified. A number of companies have also used this shared knowledge to develop their own sustainability action plans.

The next chapter

To help us ensure progress within the three collaboration platforms – and ensure the tea industry takes a long-term view and focuses on the key challenges – in July 2015 we formed the Tea 2030 CEO group.

The CEO group is formed of experienced, senior leaders from some of the world’s largest businesses working in the sector. It is responsible for the strategic direction of Tea 2030, guided by advice from our cross-sector steering group. It will drive forward the next phase of Tea 2030, delivering against the programmes underway by championing collective action. The CEO group will act as the leadership group for the whole sector and will provide a horizon scanning function for the industry; spotlighting key issues, understanding what’s driving challenges and then galvanizing action to overcome them. It will also drive wider change across the industry, for example by influencing policy. Lastly, the group will develop a roadmap showing how individual and collective action will deliver tea as a hero crop by 2030. When it’s published, you’ll find the roadmap on this webpage.

The launch of the CEO group represents a huge step forward for Tea 2030.

Your tea needs you

Tea 2030 is now calling on anyone involved in tea to come together to help meet the challenge – workers, growers, processors, traders, retailers and consumers – if you’re part of the tea industry in any way, you need to be involved in this next, exciting phase of Tea 2030.

Contact us today by emailing Ann-Marie Brouder for more information.

Don’t just take our word for it

“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

Who is in Tea 2030

Tea 2030 is led by global sustainability nonprofit Forum for the Future.

Members of the Tea 2030 CEO group include Ahmad Teas, Camellia, Finlays, KTDA, S&D Coffee & Tea, Starbucks, Tata Global Beverages, Taylors of Harrogate, Unilever and Van Rees.

Members of our steering committee also include the Ethical Tea Partnership, Fairtrade International, IDH – the Sustainable Trade Initiative, Rainforest Alliance, Yorkshire Tea and the International Tea Committee.

Read our statement following BBC reports on Assam


Related links:


Enjoyed this? Here are some other Futures projects you might like to read:

  • 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

Partners involved in this project