Unilever commits to purchase all of its tea from sustainable and ethical sources

Since 1999, the Unilever Corporation, a Europe-based international conglomerate, has been executing a pilot program on its tea estates in Kericho, Kenya. The program is part of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, a food industry initiative to actively support the development of and to communicate worldwide about sustainable agriculture involving the different stakeholders of the food chain.

In Kenya, there has been long-standing concern about land degradation and deforestation. UTK’s ‘Trees 2000’ program focuses on planting trees that add value to the landscape. By conserving indigenous trees and shrubs and animal habitats, the program seeks to enhance the conservation, environmental protection and social value of forest remnants. Recently, Unilever expanded the scope of their sustainable agriculture program with their decision to pursue certification from the Rainforest Alliance, a process which requires greater protection of wildlife, wild lands, workers’ rights and local communities.

In 2007, they were the first major tea company to commit to sustainable sourcing of tea on a large scale. In Kenya 250,000 farmers have now undertaken training in farmer field schools on sustainable tea cultivation. By the end of 2011 they had also trained nearly 50,000 more farmers in Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Turkey. By 2015, Unilever aim to have the tea in all Lipton tea bags sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified estates. By 2020 100% of Unilever’s tea, including loose tea, will be sustainably sourced.

Further information


Partnership types

Doing business with the poor; Project funding

Regions / countries / territories

Africa: Kenya; Rwanda Asia: Indonesia; Sri Lanka; Turkey

Global issues

Agriculture, aquaculture and forestry; Education and training

Business sectors

Agriculture and livestock