Meghan Markle‘s investment is behind a trendy instant coffee brand that she touts for its ethically sourced ingredients, but the company has received tens of thousands of pounds of oat milk powder from a Chinese state that has been accused of genocide, a new report shows.
Clevr Blends’ oat milk supplier, Xinjiang Haiyan International Trade is currently located within four miles of suspected detention centres, including an alleged re-education site, according to The Daily Mail.
Meghan had announced that the investment was her first after she started living a private life in December, as she and her husband Prince Harry decided to step down as active royals.
Meghan also got Oprah Winfrey to promote Clevr Blends, which makes powdered “superlatte” mixes after she sent some packs to the TV anchor as a gift.
The California-based company described itself as a “woman-led, mission-driven wellness company,” even with human rights groups asking Western companies to cut ties with the Xinjiang region due to systematic rapes and detention of a million Muslims in re-education forced labour camps, report says.
Clevr received five large deliveries of oat milk powder from Xinjiang Haiyan between October and February, The Daily Mail reports. Meanwhile, fashion companies like H&M, Burberry have refused to source cotton from the Chinese state over forced-labour concerns, according to the article.
Although there is no evidence the company uses forced labour, human rights activists reportedly said it is impossible to rule it out.
“It’s virtually impossible to be sure that any workplace in the Uighur region is free from forced labour, so no responsible business should wish to trade with any organization based there,” Chloe Cranston of Anti-Slavery International told the paper.
“Any investor – regardless of who they are – should hold their portfolio companies accountable on their ties to the Uighur region.”
“Ethics are always at the forefront of our product. We prioritize working with smaller, family-run ingredient suppliers or those with more transparent supply chains,” the company’s website reads.
A representative for Clevr Blends told the newspaper it did not know about the questionable connection.
“I personally have no awareness of this issue and feel convinced that Clevr would never intentionally hire companies with such practices. Thank you for bringing this to our awareness,” the spokesperson said.
Markle’s representatives did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Mail. Sources close to Meghan told the paper she would never work with a company that doesn’t uphold the highest ethical standards and human rights protections.