Sri Lankan teas branded with UN Global Compact to promote corporate responsibility

19 March 2007 – A Sri Lankan company introduced two new “ethical” teas of the Ceylon variety today, the first products ever to be jointly branded with the United Nations Global Compact to promote responsible corporate citizenship around the world by including information on the initiative’s 10 principles in packs sold to millions of consumers each year.

The launch of the products coincides with the start of the “A Home for Every Plantation Worker” project, in which Mabroc Teas will work to improve the lives of 10,000 families involved in the production of the tea in Sri Lanka’s Kelani Valley.

“For every pack of Mabroc Single Garden and Valley teas sold, we pledge a minimum of 1.5 US cents to this programme,” the company’s Chairman Bandula Jayasekera told a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.

Through the programme, “we make a difference to better the lives of our workers by improving their living conditions, their environment, supporting health and nutrition, creating capacity-building initiatives and empowering communities,” he added.

Every box of the teas will include a leaflet explaining the principles of the Global Compact, an initiative bringing together businesses, governments, UN agencies, labour and civil society organizations to promote 10 universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. The information is provided in five languages and the teas are shipped to some 40 countries each year.

“We believe that this story is of great importance and we hope that it will inspire many others,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the Global Compact.

The new brand of teas not only promotes the Global Compact, but “also at the same time implements the principles and gives practical meaning to it for the many, many people who are working on plantations,” he noted.

According to Bernard Goonetilleke, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States, his country is the largest exporter of black tea in the world. Additionally, the tea industry is the largest employer, involving 1 million people directly and indirectly.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that Ceylon tea and Sri Lanka have become synonymous,” he said, voicing hope that Mabroc will continue in its efforts to further the Compact’s principles. “At the same time, the example set by Mabroc should encourage other entrepreneurs around the world to follow suit and have a closer look at the way they conduct their businesses.”

Since its launch in 2000, the Global Compact has 3,800 participants, including almost 3,000 businesses from around the world.

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