Argentina and the Netherlands share more than just a queen. Today will be the fifth time that the two countries will meet in the World Cup. The Dutch have won twice, the two have drawn twice, and in 1978, the Argentineans won the final.
The two countries have always had a strong economic relationship; the Netherlands is currently Argentina’s third biggest foreign investor and the sixth biggest trade partner. Bio-energy, environmental and water technology, agribusiness and tourism are their biggest areas of intersection. One important commodity exchanged by the two countries is tea.
Maté and Tea
Sipping the national drink of Argentina, maté (also known as yerba maté), from a traditional bombilla bowl is one of the most quintessential Argentine traditions. But in the export game, tea takes the lead over the lesser known beverage. Argentina exports almost 110 million pounds of tea every year, even though tea farming didn’t begin there in earnest until the 1950s.
Tea is grown where rainfall is heavy and warm days and cool nights alternate, like in the highlands of northeastern Argentina. In 2008, six different producer groups — representing 90 farms, nearly 200 small farmers and 16,000 acres of tea plantations in Argentina’s Misiones province – achieved Rainforest Alliance certification through our partner, Imaflora.
On certified farms, workers are guaranteed access to safety training, medical care for themselves and their families and school for their children. And the environmental benefits are just as great. Certified farms reforest areas along streams and rivers, better manage soils and the implement waste reduction and recycling plans. They also avoid further deforestation of Argentina’s critically endangered rainforests.
One large buyer of Argentinean tea is the multinational corporation Unilever, which has committed to purchasing sustainably grown tea and is encouraging producers to become certified. One of Unilever’s certified brands is Lipton, which has conquered a big part of the Dutch tea market. Simon Lévelt and Republic of Tea are two other Rainforest Alliance Certified tea brands available in the Netherlands.
Fancy a Cup?
The Dutch do enjoy a cup of tea. Next to coffee and water, is it the most popular drink in this small west European country. Eighty-eight percent of the population drinks tea, with the average Dutchman drinking two cups a day, or 24 gallons per year. With such a large share of the market, Dutch consumers can really promote environmental conservation in tea growing countries like Argentina by choosing Rainforest Alliance Certified brands.