Bon Appétit Moves to Fair Trade Tea

Food service pioneer adds another industry first to its list

PALO ALTO, CA (October 1, 2015) — Even as more and more Americans are thinking about where their food comes from, few if any are considering the hands that picked the leaves in a cup of tea. But Bon Appétit Management Company is. We’ve long recognized and celebrated the people at the very beginning of our supply chain, for example through our Farm to Fork program and advocacy for farmworkers’ rights. Tea may start a few extra thousand miles away from where our vegetable and animal protein stories begin, but we’re up for the challenge — and we’re proud to be the first food service provider to make a commitment to Fair Trade Certified tea.

Starting October 1, 2015, coinciding with Fair Trade Month, we’re beginning to switch all the tea we serve our guests — including single-serve brewed and bulk-brewed (hot and cold) — to Fair Trade Certified tea.* We have selected Numi® Tea as our preferred supplier of Fair Trade brewed tea. In locations where bottled and/or canned teas are sold, Bon Appétit cafés will offer Honest Tea® as a Fair Trade Certified option.** Since there is a significant cost difference, we’ve given our teams until Oct 31, 2016, to make the conversion.

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Tea pickers in Sri Lanka carrying bundles of leaves after harvest. Photo by Maisie Ganzler.

The seeds of the Fair Trade Commitment were planted on a vacation that Vice President of Strategy Maisie Ganzler, who oversees Bon Appétit’s purchasing efforts, spent in Sri Lanka this past February. A tea drinker herself, she stopped at a tea plantation, where she watched women painstakingly picking tea leaves by hand and hauling large bundles on their heads through the rain. She learned from her trekking guide that the women are mostly immigrants and make less than $5 a day. “I was heartened when I later visited the offices of a Fair Trade Certified tea and spice company and heard about what they were doing in their community,” said Maisie. “I came back to work determined to find a way to switch our purchasing to Fair Trade Certified tea.”

The story of most tea is hard to swallow. Whether in Sri Lanka or the other major tea suppliers China, India, and Kenya, it is harvested almost exclusively by hand and mostly by women. Workers on tea plantations often face sexual harassment and other human rights abuses, cripplingly low wages, and health issues caused by the backbreaking work of picking and pesticide exposure. On small farms, the same is true, compounded with international market pressures that yield minuscule profits for small growers.

“Bon Appétit Management Company has been and continues to be a true leader in sustainable sourcing,” said Sri Artham, vice president of consumer packaged goods at Fair Trade USA. “They were one of the first food service providers to bring U.S. farmworker issues to the limelight, and are again blazing trails to support tea farmers and workers worldwide through Fair Trade. Wherever the bar was set in the industry, Bon Appétit has raised it.”

By moving to Fair Trade Certified tea, Bon Appétit is helping to alleviate poverty in ways that improve lives, empower communities, and protect the environment. Fair Trade offers producers stable prices, a Fair Trade premium (paid on top of the agreed Fair Trade price, the premium is used to invest in local communities, often going towards education, healthcare, or farm improvements) and empowers farmers and workers (committees comprising men and women democratically decide how their premium is used). It also sets standards for safe working conditions, sustainable wages, and rewards and encourages farming and production practices that are more environmentally sustainable.

Everybody wins — including the Bon Appétit guests who can enjoy a calming cup of tea knowing they are contributing to a more just and sustainable system.

 

About Bon Appétit Management Company

Bon Appétit Management Company is an on-site restaurant company operating 650 cafés in 31 states for corporations, universities, and specialty venues, including at Google, eBay, University of Pennsylvania, and the Getty Center. Bon Appétit food is cooked from scratch, including sauces, stocks, and soups. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, the food and climate change connection, humanely raised meat and eggs, and farmworker rights. It has received numerous awards for its work, from organizations including the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the James Beard Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Seafood Choices Alliance, and The Humane Society of the United States.

Media contact: Bonnie Powell, 650.621.0871, bonnie.powell@bamco.com

 

*The only exceptions to this policy are where it conflicts with requirements from our nationally branded concept partners, and the tea we source through enrolled Farm to Fork vendors.
**Our Pepsi®-exclusive units may offer Honest Tea only if their agreement allows for it.