Why Smallholder Matters for Sustainability

W h y S m a l l h o l d e r M a t t e r s f o r S u s t a i n a b i l i t y



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The US consumer is shifting to sustainability. Nearly half (48%) of all US consumers are ready and able to shift to more sustainable consumer products. Among these, Millennials are a driving force in consumption trends, and their expectations often determine market responses.


$10 Billion US Tea Market by 2020

80% of US households buy tea

50% of Americans drink tea daily, with room to grow

China smallholder teas deliver premium teas with outstanding value while also supporting economic development in rural economies. Unlike large tea estates or single-family gardens, smallholder teas are communities of tea farmers who work together to build their villages while protecting the environment they live in.


See our Tea Seedling Project

Smallholders are a collection of small farmers who live and work together. About 80% of all tea farms in China are smallholder farms. Smallholders combine their harvests and contract their crops to companies like Zhejiang Tea Group, where final processing and grading take place. This symbiosis between the big and the small creates the perfect conditions – locally nurtured plants with consistent, long-term product standards.


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The development of Smallholder tea communities aligns with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the following areas:

No Poverty

Smallholder supports economic growth that aims to eliminate poverty through the creation of sustainable jobs and retirement/pension programs.

End Hunger

Smallholder uses agriculture to generate decent incomes, while supporting people-centered rural development and protecting the environment.


Smallholder creates economic growth through the development of the agricultural industry while not harming the local environment. The program creates increased job opportunities and develops the local agriculture infrastructure to decrease poverty and reduce unemployment.



Smallholder creates investments in infrastructure – transport, irrigation, and other are crucial to achieving sustainable development and empowering communities. It has long been recognized that growth in productivity and incomes, and improvements in health and education outcomes require investment in infrastructure.

Many Smallholder projects also comply with Rainforest, Fair Trade, and Ethical Tea Partnership standards.

China produces nearly half of all tea, and China smallholder farms are the backbone of sustainable tea development.

Read more about China’s sustainable Tea Seedling Project

See our Smallholder Catalog