Honest Tea Commits to Fair Trade USA Standards Globally


Honest Tea® the nation’s top-selling organic bottled tea company and the first tea company to market Fair Trade Certified™ bottled tea announced this week that it will work with Fair Trade USA as its certification partner, committing to the organization’s recently announced vision to increase impact and include more farmers, farm workers and tea pickers around the world.

The decision is significant as Honest Tea previously had a long-term relationship with Fairtrade International (FLO) a European-based certifier that now competes with its former affiliate, Fair Trade USA. The Oakland, Calif.-based Fair Trade USA split from the international organization last October, citing differences in policy. Fair Trade USA introduced a new certification label and promised to more aggressively market Fair Trade goods to double U.S. sales by 2015.

“We’ve been a longtime investor in the Fair Trade seal, and the values it represents,” said Honest Tea co-founder and TeaEO Seth Goldman. “We endorse Fair Trade USA’s Fair Trade for All vision, with its commitment to expand the reach and impact of Fair Trade by broadening the kinds of growers who can be certified , while maintaining the rigorous standards for working conditions and community development premiums.”

Goldman said 2011 was a record year for Honest Tea’s Fair Trade Certified tea imports, as the company purchased more than 300,000 pounds of Fair Trade Certified tea and returned more than $100,000 to tea gardens, accounting for 15 percent of Fair Trade USA’s total community development premiums in the tea category.

Since 2003 Honest Tea has partnered with Fair Trade USA to source its Fair Trade ingredients, and has doubled its purchases every year since 2009. This partnership has enabled Fair Trade farmers and farm workers to earn over $250,000 in community development premiums to date.

Honest Tea’s Fair Trade premiums have helped fund education, healthcare, small farmer and farm worker safety, and organic certification projects in farming communities across the globe. Specific projects include:

  •  Makaibari (India): The community upgraded the library, provided stipends for university study, and received health and hospitality training for villagers.
  • Wuyuan Xitou (China): Street lights in the Sha Sue village were installed to provide additional worker safety and roads leading to remote tea gardens in Qing Shi and Shang Xi were repaired.
  •  United Nilgiri Tea estates (India): Local school lab facilities and a new three-story, eight classroom multimedia center were built, computers for schools and buses were purchased, helping to ensure that children who live up to 30km away can attend every day.
  • Dazhangshan (China): Fair Trade funds were invested in organic agriculture training and education; high school and university scholarships for children of farm workers were established, and a new school with library, computer lab and student dormitory was built.

“Honest Tea has been a true leader in helping us grow and expand Fair Trade certification for many years. We are proud and honored to continue collaborating with them as we work to drive more impact for more people,” said Paul Rice, President and CEO of Fair Trade USA.

Source: Fair Trade USA, Honest Tea, BevNet