Unilever to develop new tea varieties to 'future proof' supply
PG Tips maker Unilever is embarking on a tea research and development programme aimed at 'future proofing' the supply of the world's most popular beverage.
Using advanced plant breeding methods and broadening the natural diversity of tea plants to enhance their productivity, quality and overall sustainability, 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 vp, R&D refreshment at Unilever, commented: “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."
The project, in partnership with Nature Source Genetics, will be initiated within Unilever’s tea gardens in Kenya, complementing the existing agronomy programme already housed there.