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Pay more for tea as Tata Global, Wagh Bakri, Girnar and others take to 'Trust Tea' code

KOLKATA: Consumers will soon have to pay more for tea. Having been criticised at home and abroad for poor quality, tea trade stakeholders have decided to come up with a sustainable code under the aegis of Tea Board. Due to this measure, teas from gardens and factories which opt for the sustainable code will be priced higher. 

The idea to introduce a sustainable tea code cropped up after big tea retailers like Tetley, Twinings, Taylors, Sara Lee and Unilever stressed on the need of responsible and ethical sourcing of teas. Domestic buyers too are stressing on quality as purchasing power in the country is increasing and the awareness for food safety standards is spreading fast. 

Addressing a press conference on July 3, Tea Board chairman MGVK Bhanu said: "The sustainability code is being developed in partnership with the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), Solidaridad of Netherlands, Rainforest Alliance with the support of 
Hindustan UnileverBSE 0.12 % (HUL). The code will be launched on July 11. A logo will be designed for the sustainable code and producers and packeteers will have to put this logo on their teas and packets. The code will be named Trust Tea code." India is the largest black tea producing nation in the world with a production of 1,100 million kg. 

The code encompasses all aspects of tea production and seeks to 
embrace sustainability principles to boost productivity and maintain safety standards to improve quality compliance and inclusion of small tea growers in the mainstream. Small tea growers contribute 33% of India's total tea production. 

Packeteers like Tata Global, Wagh Bakri and Girnar have supported the initiative. 

The total cost of the project is 18 crore over a period of five years. The initial budget has been provided by 
HULBSE 0.12 % and IDH. Initially 600 factories, 500,000 farm workers and 40,000 small growers will be included under the India Sustainable Tea Programme. 

Shatadru Chatterjee, director, Solidaridad, said: "By 2016, nearly 500 million kg of Indian tea will come under this sustainable code." 

Added the Tea Board chairman, "The price of these teas will be a little bit higher. But consumers in India and abroad are not unwilling to pay a bit extra for a quality cuppa."