Project to develop natural tea varieties and secure supply for the future
Submitted by: Unilever
Posted: May 26, 2014 – 05:00 AM EST
LONDON and ROTTERDAM, May 26 /CSRwire/ - Unilever today announced it is embarking on a tea research and development programme aimed at safeguarding future tea supply using 21st century plant breeding methods that will lead to improved and sustainable tea varieties of tomorrow.
By broadening the natural diversity of tea plants to enhance their productivity, quality and overall sustainability, the project will help ‘future proof’ supply of the world’s most popular beverage for generations. The project will also help arrest any decline in tea crop diversity that could limit the crop’s ability to withstand drought, disease and pests in the future.
Clive Gristwood, Senior Vice President, R&D Refreshment, Unilever, said:
“This project is part of Unilever’s commitment to delivering real sustainability in the production and procurement of tea. It is critical that we act now in developing tea varieties that can thrive in the face of the challenges of tomorrow. Using cutting edge plant breeding we hope to naturally meet growing global demand whilst ensuring tea can continue to provide vital economic benefits to communities that rely on the crop for their income.
“The ability to grow more tea on less land, reduce further the need for agrochemicals while boosting tolerance to drought and climate change are integral to this project and in line with our sustainable sourcing aims under the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
“In doing so, this will directly benefit all those touched by our favourite beverage, from the small holders that grow it to those that enjoy the unique refreshment of tea,” added Clive.
Sally Uren, CEO, Forum for the Future said:
“Unilever understands that the future sustainability of the global tea sector isn’t guaranteed. Unilever also understands that a range of changes are needed to secure the future of tea, and acting alone won’t be enough. That’s why it’s so encouraging to see Unilever drawing on its strong R&D capabilities to work with others in the sector to develop more sustainable tea varieties that will have a better chance of withstanding predicted changes in the climate of key tea-producing regions. Changes in agricultural practice alone are unlikely to secure the future of tea, technological innovation also has a key role to play.”
The project, which is in partnership with Nature Source Genetics, will be initiated within Unilever’s tea gardens in Kenya, complementing the existing agronomy programme already housed there.
Notes for the editor
For more information, please contact Adam Fisher, Unilever Corporate Media Relations on +44 (0)207 822 5082 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In April 2014, Unilever announced a third year of good progress on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, and an intention to expand further its sustainable living ambition to bring about broader change on a global scale. This will involve stepping up plans to tackle several major global sustainability challenges, including:
More information at unilever.com/sustainable-living.
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries. We work with 174,000 colleagues around the world and generated annual sales of €49.8 billion in 2013. Over half of our company’s footprint is in the faster growing developing and emerging markets (57% in 2013). Working to create a better future every day, we help people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known brands, 14 of which – Knorr, Persil / Omo, Dove, Sunsilk, Hellmann’s, Surf, Lipton, Rexona / Sure, Wall’s ice cream, Lux, Flora / Becel, Rama / Blue Band, Magnum and Axe / Lynx – now generate a turnover of €1 billion or more.
Our ambition is to double the size of our business, whilst reducing our overall environmental footprint (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal) and increasing our positive social impact. We are committed to helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, sourcing all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020, and decoupling our growth from our environmental impact. Supporting our three big goals, we have defined nine commitments, underpinned by targets encompassing social, environmental and economic areas. See more on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan at www.unilever.com/sustainable-living.
Unilever has been recognised in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes for 14 consecutive years. We are included in the FTSE4Good Index Series and attained a top environmental score of 5, leading to inclusion in the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 Index. Unilever has been named sector leader of the CDP’s Forests programme for three consecutive years, and in 2013 led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey – for the third year running. Unilever was named LinkedIn’s third most sought-after employer worldwide in 2013.
For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com.
About Nature Source Genetics
Nature Source Genetics is a company based in Ithaca, New York co-founded in 2006 by Professor Steven D. Tanksley and Dr. Theresa M. Fulton from Cornell University with Dr. Vincent Pétiard, the former Head of Plant Sciences and Technology at Nestlé. Nature Source Genetics offers exclusive services on a crop per crop basis, and is currently working on different field crops, vegetables, and tropical crops with agro-seed, plantation and food companies to optimize the benefits of natural genetic diversity in target crops. More info at: www.naturesourcegenetics.com.