Sustainability

1 October 2019

Guideline on tea products

Tea is the second most commonly consumed beverage in the world, after water. The average German drinks 66 litres of tea every year. However, small tea farmers are often poor and subjected to human rights violations, and the use of pesticides in tea cultivation poses a threat to the environment. The REWE Group wants to improve social, environmental and economic conditions in the countries where tea is cultivated.

Background

The tea sector employs 15 million people in more than 80 countries. China is the largest producer, accounting for about 38 percent of tea production. Monoculture farming is common, leading to pests and nutrient-poor soils, a high level of pesticide and fertilizer use, and polluted groundwater. Most of the tea consumed worldwide is produced by small farmers, but they are unable to live on their earnings, given fluctuating global market prices and wages that are below subsistence level. Ten-hour days, child labour and sexual assaults against women are not uncommon – as is poor hygiene, which affects the supply of drinking water, for example. Since tea products, and especially tea blends, contain multiple components, there is often a lack of transparency concerning the origins of the raw materials. This makes it difficult to address social and environmental challenges.

Our goals

To improve social, environmental and economic conditions in the countries where tea is cultivated, the REWE Group is committed to purchasing certified raw materials for REWE and PENNY brand products in Germany that comply with standards like Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Naturland and EU Organic. The objective is to ensure that all its tea products contain such certified raw products, and that goal has already been achieved for black and green teas. By the end of 2025, certified raw materials should account for at least 30 percent of herbal and fruit tea products, and the goal is to steadily increase that share for each product. In addition, the company intends to improve transparency and traceability in its tea supply chain.

Our measures

To achieve its goals, the REWE Group is focusing on Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Naturland and EU Organic certification. Certification requirements include protecting biodiversity, preventing pests and plant diseases, rather than using pesticides to combat them, a national or regional minimum wage, a ban on exploitative child labour and forced labour, equitable participation by men and women, and protection for the health and safety of workers.