Regenerative Tea Scorecard Supporting Rainforest Alliance Plantations

In October 2023, Kirin Holdings Company, Limited (Kirin Holdings) and Kirin Beverage Company, Limited (Kirin Beverage) embarked on a collaborative endeavor with the Rainforest Alliance, initiating a project aimed at crafting and implementing a pioneering regenerative agriculture tea framework named “The Regenerative Tea Scorecard.” This initiative is set to commence in select tea plantations situated in Sri Lanka, a primary source of the tea leaves utilized in Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha, with a pilot phase scheduled for 2024.

The objective behind “The Regenerative Tea Scorecard” is to furnish farmers and companies with a voluntary and user-friendly tool to facilitate the transition to regenerative farming practices. This innovative tool is intended to bolster tea farms in adopting regenerative agriculture principles, promoting soil health, on-farm biodiversity conservation, ecosystem restoration, and enhancing crop productivity to uplift livelihoods. The scorecard will undergo initial testing within Kirin’s supply chain, enabling tea farmers to evaluate their current farming methods and pinpoint areas for improvement toward transitioning to regenerative agriculture.

Drawing from the Rainforest Alliance’s definition of regenerative agriculture, which advocates for a conservation and restoration-oriented approach to farming, “The Regenerative Tea Scorecard” integrates environmentally sustainable farming practices with comprehensive systems management strategies. This holistic approach ensures the vitality of soil, conservation of on-farm biodiversity, restoration of ecosystems, and improvement of farmer livelihoods.

Approximately 50% of Japan’s imported black tea leaves originate from Sri Lanka, with 24% being utilized in Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha. Since 2013, the Kirin Group has been actively supporting tea producers in obtaining Rainforest Alliance certification through training programs. This endeavor aims to foster stronger partnerships with vital tea-producing regions and stakeholders, ensuring the continued production of delectable and trustworthy tea beverages. By the end of 2022, the Kirin Group had supported 94 tea farms in Sri Lanka, representing around 30% of all large estates, in obtaining Rainforest Alliance certification. Notably, in 2021, Kirin introduced Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha Straight Tea 250ml LL Slim, crafted entirely from Sri Lankan tea leaves, with over 90% being Rainforest Alliance certified.

Tea farmers in Sri Lanka confront numerous challenges, including the adverse impacts of climate change such as droughts and heavy rainfall, as well as land-use changes resulting from urbanization. To address these challenges, Kirin Holdings began disclosing natural capital-related information on a trial basis in July 2022, employing the TNFD LEAP Approach. The Kirin Group Environmental Report 2023, released in July 2023, shed light on tea plantations in Sri Lanka, offering a comprehensive analysis of “Locate” (identifying the interface with nature) and “Evaluate” (assessing dependencies and impacts). The report underscored the efficacy of Rainforest Alliance certification training in tackling these issues. However, recognizing that not all farmers have attained certification, the Kirin Group is committed to supporting primarily small-scale farms in their sustainability journey by collaborating with the Rainforest Alliance to introduce “The Regenerative Tea Scorecard.” Through this initiative, the Kirin Group endeavors to promote the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices among tea farmers and enhance the sustainability of raw material production areas.

The Kirin Group remains steadfast in addressing multifaceted environmental challenges, including biological resources, water resources, containers, and packaging, as well as climate change, through a holistic approach. Moreover, the group aims to collaborate with stakeholders across the value chain to ensure the preservation and responsible utilization of the Earth’s resources for future generations. Embracing proactive measures, the Kirin Group is committed to spearheading initiatives that yield positive impacts on both nature and society.

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