With Gulfood taking place in Dubai, as you read this, companies could be forgiven for putting the emphasis on profits – especially in this turbulent financial climate.

However one company is very much putting people before profits. Dilmah Tea founder Merrill J Fernando spoke to Catering News Middle East about the importance of giving something back to the people who helped make his company what it is.

“As I stand here, I can honestly when you go to a supermarket and buy Dilmah Tea I don’t put the profit into my pocket,” he said.

“I share it with the poor and the wider community.”

The 87-year-old is not afraid to put his money where his mouth is with 10% of all profits, before tax, going to the MJF Charitable Foundation.

“This changes 10,000 to 15,000 lives each year. Teapickers’ children who were destined to become the next generation of tea makers are now able to become doctors, lawyers, professionals because of scholarships offered by the foundation,” he said.

“Where would they have seen those positions if not for the success of Dilmah? It is about helping the poor stand on their own two feet – that is my story and I am proud of it!”

Fernando said the emphasis is very much on fairness rather than profit at Dilmah Tea.

“We own everything from plantations to all the services and facilities required to release a packet of Dilmah Tea. Every pack of Dilmah Tea we release to the market is ethically produced. It comes to you with love and care from the plantation workers to everybody in my family,” he said.

“That is the strength of Dilmah, a family brand with family values. Other brands are owned by traders and trading companies. Whether they are big or small, they squeeze the supplier.”

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