Our Farm Blog

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

What's in Your Cup; The Food Chain

What's in Your Cup; The Food Chain

With the global economy continuing to stutter, amidst falling personal incomes and ever rising costs, there is a continuing drive for the food chain to exact 'value for money', with a common perception that the consumer can continue to get more for less built around an often lengthy and industrialised food chain.

As farmers we are often at the receiving end of these drives to offer lower cost produce as economic pressures force retailers to look for the lowest cost of production, a scenario that is accelerated by many retailers using tea as a 'loss leading' product. The recent "Horsegate Scandal" proved how easily the food chain can be adulterated and in particular highlighted the issues of poorly labelled products and the principal issue of trust.

One of the real issues behind "Horsegate" is the question of what else could enter our food chain as part of 'cost cutting measures'? The perception of getting something for nothing cannot continue and it is surely time for a rethink.

As Tea Farmers we are keen to promote the benefits of sourcing fresh and sustainably produced teas and are supporting Rainforest Alliance's "Whats in your cup" campaign, asking consumers to consider if they truly know what's in their cup of tea?

Whilst recent Government and DEFRA surveys show an increasing number of consumers seeking to source local and farm fresh foods it remains a concern that the tea market is overlooked. At Williamson Tea we are very happy knowing that we are the only brand in the UK retail market that grows all of the tea in its products. By comparison many labels offer exciting and eye-catching headlines of sustainably sourced or farm fresh tea, but the small print reveals clever marketing, with not all the tea inside actually certified and many sourced from markets dotted around the globe.

This poses a number of key questions; 
  • Do consumers really know what's in their cup?
  • How can a product that contains teas sourced from varying global locations, each with their own associated food chains truly be sustainable and traceable?
These are interesting questions and with an increasing number of Chinese teas stopped from entering the UK due to pesticide and chemical levels over UK threshold levels it is something that needs to be considered before a "Teagate" occurs.

At Williamson Tea we are Tea Farmers and our philosophy of "Our Farms, Our Teas'  means that all our teas are grown solely on our own four farms in Kenya. This is a unique position, no other tea company on the UK shelves can claim to be the same and it is a position that we hope consumers can have confidence in. We know whats in our cup of tea, we can take you to the place on the farm its grown. We can show you where we grow the young tea bushes in our nurseries, show you where they are planted in the fields and show you the people that pick the tea on our farms. We know what's in our cup, do you know what's in yours?