Barry’s Tea: A Brief History and Recent Controversies

Founded in Cork in 1901 by James J. Barry, Barry’s Tea is an Irish tea company that has grown to become a national brand, with 38% of all tea sales in the Irish market. The company expanded its operations in the 1960s and now distributes tea in the UK, Spain, Canada, Australia, France, Luxembourg, and the US.

Family Ties and Political Affiliations

Members of the Barry family have held political positions, with the founder’s son, Anthony Barry, serving as a TD from 1954-57 and 1961-65. Anthony’s son, Peter Barry, was a TD from 1969-97 and his daughter, Deirdre Clune, was a TD from 1997-2001 and 2007-11, and has been an MEP since 2014.

Debates and Controversies

Barry’s Tea has long been a subject of debate among Irish households, with many comparing it to Lyons Tea. However, the company faced criticism in May 2018 when it was revealed that its teabags were made with non-compostable plastic (polypropylene), which is harmful to the environment. In response to consumer pressure, the company claims to have made all of its teabags biodegradable as of August 2021.

Barry’s Tea also faced controversy for its sponsorship of the greyhound racing industry in Ireland, which has been the subject of investigations into animal cruelty. Despite calls to end its sponsorship, the company refused until July 2019, when it was announced that the sponsorship had been pulled indefinitely.

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