The Taylors Sourcing Approach
Building strong relationships with our suppliers has always been important to us. But in the last few years we’ve been developing and rolling out an approach to sourcing that puts quality, sustainability and relationships at its heart.
It’s called the Taylors Sourcing Approach or TSA for short and we believe it’s pretty special. It’s set up to allow us to work with our producers to build a more sustainable supply chain, protecting their livelihoods and your brew. TSA has been designed in collaboration with our suppliers, involving them at every stage.
Where it all began
TSA was set up in 2013 and we worked directly with producers in two of our tea regions to test our thinking. We asked them exactly how they would like to do business with us in the future, what a closer working relationship could look like and how we could secure a consistent supply of quality tea in the future.
We were greeted with answers that didn’t surprise us. Producers wanted to know that we would be buying their tea for the long term and that they would be paid fairly. They wanted to work with us on addressing some of their sustainability challenges and they wanted reassurance that the prices we paid would remain sustainable, so they could plan for the future and reinvest in their businesses. That’s how TSA was born.
The ins and outs
TSA is built on the great relationships we hold with our suppliers and has allowed us to transform the way we work with them.
One of the key elements is around long term contracts – which are rare in the tea and coffee industry. We operate forward contracts with our suppliers which often run for three years. These provide our suppliers with a level of financial security allowing them to plan for their business in the longer term.
Secondly, we want to ensure we’re paying a fair price to our producers. Our commitment is to pay prices which will at least cover the cost of production, to support producers when markets fall to unsustainable levels.
To help us do this we try to maintain an open dialogue around costs of production and transparency regarding the actual return to the farmers whose tea or coffee we’ve bought.
Every year we conduct annual reviews with our suppliers so that we can jointly assess how things have gone and plan for the following year. That’s when we produce future business plans, together. We look to do this face to face as much as possible — visiting our suppliers to maintain our strong relationships.
As part of these reviews, we work with closely with our suppliers to look for ways to address the social and environmental challenges they face within their operations and in their wider community. Last year we invested around £1.4m in projects across our supply chain.
We also regularly visit our suppliers to spend time with them tasting tea and coffee together — assessing quality and discussing improvements. We have six ‘Q Graders’ (professionally qualified coffee tasters) here in Harrogate who have used the universally recognised scoring system for coffee to improve the quality of coffee with our suppliers. And in tea we have developed our own unique tasting ‘language’ for tea through calibration with our growers so that we can ensure we get the high standard we are looking for.