PG Tips puts ethical credentials on show

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The Independent Online

From June, PG Tips packaging will carry details of the Ethical Tea Partnership, a group that includes most of the major tea brands in the UK, which is promoting fair practices among tea growers.

Unilever, which owns PG Tips, has been a supporter of the ETP since it was set up in 1997, but only now is the ethical initiative starting to be promoted.

Taylors of Harrogate (which makes Yorkshire and Bettys tea) and Finlays (which also produces J Sainsbury's own-label tea) already display the ETP logo on their products. Other tea makers, including Tetley, Twinings and Matthew Algie, have signed up and will start displaying the logos later this year.

The ETP sets an ethical code for tea growers, to ensure that they treat their workers fairly and protect the environment. Manufacturers will buy tea only from those growers that are party to the initiative.

So far, ETP has signed up growers in tea-producing countries that are responsible for 65 per cent of the crop grown around the world. Despite this, it is only just getting a foothold in two of the world's largest tea-growing regions, southern India and China.

Gavin Bailey, the executive director of the ETP, expects that every tea-producing country will be covered by the partnership's monitoring programme by 2008.

ETP differs from Fairtrade in that it is an industry-wide initiative. Fairtrade concentrates on fair pricing and social wellbeing at agricultural estates growing tea, coffee and other produce carrying its branding.

Next Monday sees the start of Fairtrade fortnight, during which the backers of the initiative will try to promote the ethical sourcing of everyday household products.