Our story

Ordinary people making a difference

For nearly forty years Tradewinds has been building relationships so that trade can be fairer for people who grow, pick, process and pack our tea and coffee. 

Tradewinds Tea and Coffee Pty Ltd began as the World Development Tea Cooperative (WDTC) in 1977.  The cooperative was the successor of earlier groups of people from 1975 onwards. A group of ordinary people wanted to show that international trade could provide decent work, adequate pay and quality of life for producer communities.  

They began by selling tea from Sri Lanka that was processed and packed there, to inform Australians about inequities in international trading, and the poor conditions of tea workers. This Sri Lankan tea provided an alternative to the multinational produced teas. Tradewinds partnered with a small Sri Lankan company Stassen and in 1978 began importing Stassen’s tea packaged in hand woven baskets from the Dambadeniya region of Sri Lanka.

In 1991, Tradewinds Tea and Coffee was incorporated and became the trading arm of WDTC which continued its educational role.  In the same year, Tradewinds began importing Arabicas coffee produced by smallholders from PNG. The following year, Tradewinds began bringing in Garaina organic tea, again from smallholders from PNG, and a few years later certified organic and fairtade tea from first organic tea estate in Sri Lanka at Idulgashinna. In 1999, Tradewinds took over the WDTC’s functions in a streamlining of the organisation.  The following year, Tradewinds began selling coffee from the newly independent East Timor.

A network of volunteers who had formed a WDTC branch in Victoria became People for Fair Trade Inc (PFFT) in 1995 and grew steadily to become Tradewinds' largest distribution partner. In 2013 PFFT and Tradewinds merged so that they could join forces. Since 2013, the operations management and warehousing has been located in Melbourne, with the Tradewinds board (comprising members of both Tradewinds and PFFT) overseeing the organisation.

Supported by a web of volunteers, likeminded people, organisations and businesses, Tradewinds has continued selling tea from Sri Lanka, and coffee from PNG, East Timor and Columbia - developing long lasting relationships with our producer partners along the way. Since its beginnings as a company, Tradewinds has applied surplus profits to support thesocial development project at Idulgashinna and many other projects in Sri Lanka, East Timor and the Pacific. 

Tradewinds has led the development of fairtrade certified and organic tea and coffee in Australia