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Collaboration
Tata, Unilever Launch Tea 2030 Project

Tata Global Beverages, Unilever, Yorkshire Tea and Finlays have joined a coalition of businesses and organizations to address sustainability issues within the tea industry.

Tata Global Beverages, Unilever, Yorkshire Tea and Finlays have joined a coalition of businesses and organizations to address sustainability issues within the tea industry.

The Tea 2030 project will be facilitated and managed by global sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future. Other participants include the Ethical Tea Partnership, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade International.

The project aims to understand and develop solutions to the key challenges facing the sector to 2030. For instance, the market for tea is rapidly changing. Currently it is not traded in the same way as other commodities, but some experts think it could be by 2030. This would increase market transparency, but also possibly lead to speculation and thus the volatility seen in other markets in the past few years.

Competition for land and climate change is a another major concern that could result in tea plantations being converted to other uses. Between 2005 and 2010, 13,000 hectares of land in Indonesia have been converted from tea to other purposes such as growing rubber, palm oil and fruit.

Tea 2030 said it also wants to respond to growing opportunities for responsible products in developing markets such as Brazil, China and India. According to the recent Regeneration Roadmap study, consumer in these markets are more than twice as likely as those in developed markets to buy products because of social and environment benefits (51% to 22% respectively), and pay more for sustainable products (60% to 26%).

“It is critical that the industry responds innovatively to these trends and challenges — yet many require collaborative action as they are too big for one organisation to tackle alone,” the group said in a release. “Tea 2030 has been designed to bring the power of the entire tea sector together to do this.”

Tea 2030 intends to share its insight and vision widely — including the key trends affecting the industry and agreed ‘innovation platforms’ that will be launched in September 2013.

Dr. Sally Uren, Deputy Chief Executive of Forum for the Future, said: “Through our past projects in sectors as diverse as tourism and shipping, we have seen how exploration of different possible futures can be a powerful way of generating a shared understanding of sustainability issues throughout entire value chains. In turn, this shared understanding can generate new solutions to systemic problems that are just too big for one organization to tackle alone. We have high hopes that Tea 2030 will deliver practical action that will secure a sustainable and successful future for the global tea industry.”

@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant.

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