In 1984, Clipper was launched as first ethical and responsible tea brand in the UK. James Ikin and Daniel Parr, respectively purchasing manager and Head of Technical and R&D, about CLIPPER’S sustainable developments.
Why have the founders of CLIPPER decided to create a new tea brand in the UK?
What is your relationship with your producers?
When Mike and Lorraine founded Clipper, there was no other brand specializing in organic or fairtrade tea. Besides, at that time, fairtrade tea did not even exist! Today our organic teas come from all over the world: India, Africa and Sri Lanka.
First and foremost, we build strong and long term relationships with them. They are not only supplier to us, but real partners. It takes three years for a land converting to organic, so we know our producers a long time. For instance South India where we work for over twenty years. It is a story of trust. We go there regularly and develop all fairtrade projects.
What projects have you managed to put in place?
During a recent visit to Tamil Nadu in southern India, we have been to a hospital that now treats hundreds of patients through premiums from fairtrade. Tea producers are not the only ones to benefit – the whole area in which they reside benefits. There is now medical equipment that you would not have imagined before: scanners, modern dental equipment or radiography ... We also visited a school recently restored. Computers have been purchased through fair trade premiums. The government helps too, as well as the Church, which pays the teachers.
South India in 2015. Standing from left to right: Patrick Cairns (CEO Wessanen UK), James Ikin (Purchasing Manager) and Daniel Parr (R & D CLIPPER)
What other benefits of fairtrade have you seen?
For example villages at the Wuling mountain in China: When we went there for the first time, they were difficult to access. It took four hours for children to go to school, farmers were struggling to get their teas to the collection centre. With the fairtrade premium the road network has been improved. The children need only thirty minutes to get to school now! Farmers can easily bring their vegetables to the market and sell them there, complementing their income. A bridge was also built to cross the river that overflows its banks during the monsoon months.
Read the French interview (Greenweez magazine) here