Coffee anyone? Tea? Hot Chocolate? How about a biscuit, or some cordial for the kids?

Many morning tea drinks and snacks are high-risk for forced or child labour. We’ve researched what options are available in New Zealand if you’re looking for alternatives for your next event.

Want a quick summary to pull out at the supermarket? Check out our Summary Flyer (PDF).

Or you may want to skip straight to our recommendations (including options for larger quantities and enveloped products).

Table of Contents

What’s the problem?

The risks for child or forced labour differ across morning tea supplies.

  • Coffee – It’s mainly child labour that’s the concern for coffee. Most is grown on small farms in developing countries, and the market price of coffee keeps the producers in poverty. Those farming and picking coffee are often unable to earn enough and pull their kids out of school to help make ends meet. Unless the families growing coffee can earn a living income, this will continue to be a problem.
  • Tea – Both forced labour and child labour are risks in black and green tea production. Reasons for this include volatile prices, and tea being grown in rural areas far from law-enforcement officers (making it easier for labour abuses to occur). Rooibos tea production may also involve child labour. (Other herbal and fruit teas appear to generally be low risk.)
  • Hot chocolateCocoa and sugar are high-risk ingredients for hot chocolate. Both industries are known to involve use of child labour, with cocoa being the more risky of the two. For cocoa, it’s similar to coffee in that farmers tend to earn very little and need to put their kids to work to survive. Kids miss out on going to school and work in hazardous conditions, leading to serious health and safety concerns. For sugar, see below.
  • Sugar – Labour abuses are well-known to occur in the sugar industry. Part of this is because sugar prices are artificially subsidised or guaranteed in some countries, leading to producers in other countries cutting costs (through use of child labour and unsafe working conditions) to compete.
  • Cordial – Most drink concentrates have sugar as their dominant ingredient, and as mentioned above, sugar is high-risk for labour abuses in the supply chain. (We haven’t researched other ingredients in cordial in detail, but most appear to be low risk.)
  • BiscuitsCocoa and sugar are common ingredients in biscuits, and these are high-risk for child or forced labour as mentioned above.
A steaming hot drink in a white cup with two biscuits on a table

How to have a slave-free morning tea

It’s worth noting that no company can fully guarantee their supply chain is forced labour or child labour free. The options listed below are low-risk. They either use certifications that involve periodic audits, or source ingredients from countries with strong labour laws, or have internal checking processes we trust.*

For more about this, see our notes on:

*The companies with internal checking processes we trust are Dilmah (which has very concrete and verifiable claims in regards to how their workers are treated) and Starbucks C.A.F.E (which has public and independently monitored standards around child labour).

Below are recommendations that fit these criteria, plus options for bulk quantities or large events.

General recommendations


Logos for Trade Aid, Everybird, Macro, L'OR, Countdown own brand, and Starbucks coffee at home

Available at supermarkets:

There are also many other brands available online or in other stores. For more, see our full list of coffee recommendations.

If you’re looking for a particular type of coffee, see our recommendations by product type (listing beans, ground coffee, instant, capsules etc. as well as decaf products and takeaway options at major chains).

Planning a larger event? See options for sachets and bulk quantities.


Logos for Trade Aid, Dilmah, Scarborough Fair, Countdown own brand, Pams, and Taylors of Yorkshire

Available at supermarkets:

  • Trade Aid, Dilmah, and Scarborough Fair – these are free of child and forced labour, and give workers safe working conditions. They also go beyond that by offering other benefits (such as decent pay, annual leave etc.)
  • Countdown own brand tea, Pams classic tea, and Taylors of Yorkshire tea – these are Rainforest Alliance certified, so are free of child and forced labour, and give workers safe working conditions.

There are also many other brands, with partially certified product ranges or available in other stores. For more, see our full list of tea recommendations.

If you’re looking for a particular type of tea, see our recommendations by product type (e.g. black and breakfast teas, green teas, herbal and fruit teas).

Planning a larger event? See options for enveloped tea bags and bulk quantities.

Hot Chocolate

Drinking chocolate by Trade Aid, Kokako, Wellington Chocolate Factory, Countdown own brand, and Milo

The below use slave-free cocoa and are available at supermarkets:

There are many other options available online or in other stores. For more, see our full list of hot chocolate recommendations.

Planning a larger event? See options for sachets and bulk quantities.


Countdown own brand White, Raw, and Brown sugar, and Trade Aid's Organic golden sugar and Golden granulated sugar
  • Available at Countdown: White sugar, raw sugar, and brown sugar from Countdown’s own brand range. These have Bonsucro certification.
  • Available from Trade Aid stores and some supermarkets: Golden sugar with World Fair Trade Organisation certification.

Planning a larger event? See options for sachets and bulk quantities.


Various bottles of cordial by Rose's, Schweppes, and Bickford's

Available at supermarkets:

*Note that some specialty shops also stock Rose’s cordials manufactured in South Africa, which come in a much wider range of flavours. These are produced by a different company and we do not know if they are made with slave-free sugar. Roses marmalade is also made by a different company and, again, we don’t know if the sugar in those is slave free.


We haven’t yet found a company that uses both cocoa and sugar that are slave-free. However Griffins use slave-free cocoa for all their biscuits except Cameo Cremes, while Arnotts use slave-free sugar. As cocoa is a higher-risk product than sugar for labour abuses, we recommend Griffins for chocolate biscuits and Arnotts for other biscuits.

Griffin's logo alongside biscuit packets of Squiggles, ToffeePops, MallowPuffs, Snaps, and Cookie Bear Chocolate Chippies

Griffin’s biscuits with certified cocoa include: 

  • Squiggles
  • Toffee pops
  • Mallow puffs
  • Snaps
  • Cookie Bear cookies

Note: Cameo Cremes are not included. These are made in a different factory with a different ingredient supply chain.

Arnott's logo alongside biscuit packets of Farmbake, Shapes, Tiny Teddy, and TimTam

Arnott’s sweet and savoury biscuits, include:

  • TimTams
  • Farmbake
  • Tiny Teddies
  • Shapes crackers
  • They also have a small gluten free range.

Planning a larger event? See options for bulk quantities.

Recommendations for bulk quantities, single-serve products and vending machine formats

A wooden stand holding single-serve sachets for hot drinks, a sack of sugar, bags of coffee, and cardboard boxes with single-serve sachets of tea.

Looking to buy in bulk, or need single-serve sachets for an event coming up? We’ve got recommendations for..


See our list for:

  • bulk quantities of beans, ground coffee, capsules, and instant coffee
  • single-serve sachets
  • vending machine concentrates


See our list for:

  • teabags in commercial quantities
  • loose leaf tea in commercial quantities
  • enveloped tea bags


For bulk quantities:

For sachets:

Hot Chocolate

See our list for:

  • 1kg-5kg quantities of powder
  • single-serve sachets
  • vending machine powder


Bulk quantities are available at Office Max for:

As mentioned above, we recommend Griffin’s for chocolate biscuits and Arnott’s for other biscuits.