September 12, 2017

Getting a fair trade on our tea and coffee

But as an organisation that makes the effort to be as conscientious as possible with things like our energy consumption and recycling, it dawned on me that we have rarely considered the human impact of where we source one of our most frequently used products. So I thought I’d take a fresh look into the instant coffee we drink every day, and I have to admit, I was surprised with what I found.

What is Fairtrade?

We may have seen the fair trade logo on a few of our general household items, but what does it actually mean? Well put simply; ‘With Fairtrade you have the power to change the world every day. With simple shopping choices you can get farmers a better deal. And that means they can make their own decisions, control their futures and lead the dignified life everyone deserves.’

When it comes to shopping choices we tend to buy brands we know, like, and represent good value. Nescafe, for example, are the No.1 instant coffee brand in the UK. We buy and drink thousands of cups a year in our offices. Is that due to great taste? Or maybe it’s just clever marketing? (Most will remember the advert saga in the 90s) But have you ever looked closely at a cup of Nescafe, other than to see if you’ve got the right amount of milk in there?  What if we asked if our coffee was produced ethically? What if we really questioned what the brand stands for?

Nescafe say they do plenty in terms of helping their growers. And they have teamed up with the rainforest alliance to encourage biodiversity and sustainability.


A small bit of research and you can find comparisons of companies based on independently rated ethical values. These studies measure the responsibility of retailers, brands, and suppliers to improve the working conditions of the disadvantaged people in its supply chain.

Nescafe come out bottom or near the bottom of these lists. Therefore we have to ask should we, as a company really be supporting the brand?

So what can we do about it?

Other than stop drinking coffee (relax, that's not going to happen!) The best way to act on this information is to review who's products we buy. Instead, we need to think about supporting a top rated brand, Café Direct for example are the UK's first and largest 100% Fairtrade hot drinks brand. They are the only tea and coffee brand to have received ethical accreditation from the Ethical Company Organisation. Futhermore they support fair profit sharing, involvement of producers in their business and ensure sustainability is at the heart of everything they do.

Now this is a brand we should support! That's why the Green Group are proud to have taken the decision to buy and support fair trade tea and coffee in all of our offices. So keep an eye out for their products being phased into Royds Withy King offices in time for Green Week in September and make sure you give them a try.

Now after all that research I think I deserve a cup of tea. Mine's with milk, no sugar. Thanks.

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