Making the business case: Tea worker nutrition programmes

Speelman L, Saab W, Koole C, Phillips J, Lofthouse J, van der Zijden M, Weiligmann B, Nyhus Dhillon C
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and NewForesight
Resource type:
Case studies and tools

This study summarises the findings of research undertaken by GAIN and NewForesight to explore the business case for investing in and implementing nutrition programmes from the perspective of Amalgamated Plantations (APPL), one of India’s largest tea producers, and Unilever, a major tea buyer.

The study suggests that, for APPL, improved workers’ health and the potential knock-on financial benefits for business were key motivators. For both APPL and Unilever, managing reputational risk and brand reputation were also key drivers. Because of the challenging financial context for plantations in the tea sector in India, integrating programmes into existing approaches and bringing in partners with funding, expertise and capacity are key to the success of nutrition programmes in the tea value chain.

Other key findings are listed below:

  • Increased profitability was APPL’s primary motivation for implementing nutrition programmes, with an assumption that improved worker health would bring financial benefits.
  • Meeting workers’ health and nutrition needs was a key driver for both APPL and Unilever. 
  • Tea estates provide valuable existing infrastructure through which to deliver nutrition programmes, making programmes more cost effective and scalable. 
  • Tea plantations in the tea sector do not make enough returns to cover the high costs of providing additional services and benefits to their workers beyond the legal requirements. Because of this, tea producers need financial and technical support to make the case for and implement nutrition programmes.
  • Based on the strong fit with Unilever’s sustainability priorities, Unilever has committed to scaling its involvement and investment in nutrition programmes across the tea sector, working with GAIN, the Ethical Tea Partnership and other tea companies.
This resource presents evidence or data but has not been peer reviewed