Leading tea brands, including PG Tips, Tetley and Twinings, are aiming to boost their ethical credentials by adding a new statement on packs.
Brand owners Unilever UK Foods, the Tetley Group and R Twining are all members of the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) - a body that ensures all of the tea bought by its members is produced in a socially responsible way.
To do this, the ETP regularly monitors tea estates across eight countries to ensure they comply with local laws and trade union agreements.
It monitors another six areas - employment (minimum age and wage levels), education, maternity, health and safety, housing and some basic rights.
It claims its members account for two thirds of all tea drunk in the UK. However, unlike tea accredited by the Fairtrade Foundation, members of the ETP do not pay a higher or guaranteed price.
Duncan Bogie, spokesman for the ETP, said member brands would only feature a “small unobtrusive reference” to its involvement with the ethical body and a message inviting consumers to visit the ETP website. He said the ETP was not a certification scheme and so there would not be an ETP logo on-pack.
Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Our concern is that there is nothing within the ETP scheme that merits shouting about on-pack. All it shows is they are complying with a country's legal minimum.”
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