Unilever is aiming to lead the way to ensuring tea keeps building communities, improving people’s livelihoods, and respecting the environment.

Through participating in the Malawi Tea 2020 programme, we have progressively increased the amount and quality of tea sourced from Malawi. We believe that working in partnership with other buyers and stakeholders means we can achieve more through procurement with purpose.

Sustainable procurement is an important element to this as this is one of the levers to contribute to the livelihoods of tea workers, smallholder farmers and the communities they live in by generating more income from the tea they grow and sell.

In 2010, Unilever committed to sustainably sourcing 100% of its tea by 2020. In Malawi we provide all our tea producers with annual contracts, giving them a longer-term outlook on earnings. We also support our tea producers by having agreements by which they can benefit from Unilever’s credit rating.

Since 2016 we have doubled the volume we buy, which is testament to our commitment towards Malawi and the Malawi Tea 2020 programme. From the outset we have been working with producers to increase the quality of the leaf they produce, which can be sold with a premium generating a higher revenue afterwards. Through extensive annual onsite trainings by Unilever’s employees and through collaboration with our tea experts in Kenya, we overcame the challenge of changing the mindset of tea producers from quantity to quality driven production, crucial to maintain a sustainable tea industry.

Malawi 2020 is a good example of Unilever’s new vision for Procurement -a Procurement with Purpose – driving impact every day, everywhere, for everyone. It is critical that additional value is passed onto the workers, and we continue to work with our suppliers to include this in our contracts with them.

John Mutua, Head of Tea Procurement - Africa

To ensure that the progress made to date will be sustained going forward, we maintain committed to sustainably sourcing our tea from Malawi and all other origins and working closely with our partners.

Tea producers and smallholders’ increasing ability to grow higher quality tea should enable them to increase their earnings and become more profitable in the future. We will continue our approach on ‘increased quality from Malawi’ and will continue to look for opportunities to also use Malawian green and orthodox teas.


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