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Company Response

4 May 2023

Starbucks' response to allegations of abuses in its tea supply chain


Specific to this report: ...As soon as we became aware of the allegations in this report, we engaged our tea suppliers, Rainforest Alliance and the Ethical Tea Partnership to understand circumstances behind the article and the allegations. We can confirm we received teas from some of the gardens listed in the Daily Mirror article, and despite our very low sourcing volume of our global tea from these estates, we thoroughly investigate any allegation that is in conflict with our ethical sourcing commitment and supplier code of conduct. We can also confirm all of these historical purchases were Rainforest Alliance Certified. Starbucks has not received teas from tea gardens named in the World Socialist Website.

To continue to improve human rights and reporting within our tea supply chain, Starbucks is actively taking the following steps:

  • Reinforce with all tea suppliers and brokers that they must be informing us proactively if human rights related concerns occur in the future related to any gardens supplying to Starbucks.
  • Track and confirm gardens supplying tea to Starbucks that are currently undergoing their Rainforest Alliance recertification satisfactorily complete re-certification against the new Rainforest Alliance 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard (SAS) in order to continue supplying tea to Starbucks. Starbucks has confirmed that the 16 gardens that have delivered tea have recently completed or are in the process of obtaining their renewal certification according to the new Rainforest Alliance standard. A requirement to obtain certification under the new Rainforest Alliance Certification standard is to:
    • Comply with the established current minimum wage and
    • Close any nonconformities that were temporarily granted an exception while the court case was in process.
  • Failure to comply, or failure to work with Starbucks or a third party to correct non-complying situations, are grounds for cancellation of open orders, discontinued use of non-complying production sites, or termination of our business relationship...

In FY22, 99% of tea sourced by Global Coffee, Tea & Cocoa, the company’s global tea sourcing team, was verified responsibly sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified gardens. Rainforest Alliance certification includes requirements to pay the legal minimum wage and that there is progress towards a Living Wage...

[The full response is attached]

Part of the following timelines

Sri Lanka: Twenty major plantation companies challenge wage raise for tea workers; incl. buyer responses

Sri Lanka: Workers dismissed for protesting introduction of "unfair" new targets and wage system; incl. co. responses

Company responses and non-response to allegations of human rights abuses in tea supply chains