Tata Global Beverages, owners of Tetley supermarket tea brand, responded to allegations that one of its Assam plantations pays workers below minimum wage. A documentary by The Guardian newspaper claims that such conditions have created a breeding ground for the slave trade. Tata pushed back saying that tea pickers' wages are set not by a single plantation, but by an industry-wide wage settlement, involving the government, the workers' union and the tea association. The company also insists that free accommodation and schooling makes up the lower wages and that it has never used that Assam plantation to source tea for any of its brands. The World Bank, a minority investor in the plantation, is currently investigating the on-site working conditions.
The new advertising campaign for Lipton tea, launched during the Academy Awards ceremony, combines hot and iced categories under a single global positioning. For the first time, Unilever's hot and iced tea brands are united in a single multi-million dollar brand campaign, headlined by the characters from Muppets. Under the "be more tea" slogan, the ads aim to give the brand a playful, fun and irreverent tone, instilling a more relaxed, zen-like attitude to daily life. The global revamp is expected to cost more than $40 million, roughly double what Unilever spent last year. It is in line with the wider overhaul of how Unilever plans to market its global brands in the future, with a bigger focus on targeted digital platforms.
Keurig maker Green Mountain Coffee Roasters plans to make its new range of single-serve machines work exclusively with own licensed pods. Court documents reveal that Keurig is seeking to secure the lucrative refill market via a DRM-style technique in a similar fashion to printer manufacturers. This follows the Keurig K-Cup pod patent expiration in 2013, which opened the doors for other manufacturers to produce their own pods. While the technology behind the new DRM-like feature remains under wraps, the move is seen as a work around for the expired patent and is likely to be in place by 2015. The lawsuit, filed by TreeHouse Foods, also alleges that the company has been brokering exclusionary agreements with its suppliers to try to block third-party manufacturers from the market.
Fourth quarter results from Coca-Cola confirm the continuing decline of its core soft drinks market and highlight a solid performance by its portfolio of ready-to-drink tea brands. Subdued demand for sugary soft drinks and adverse currency translations resulted in a 4% dip in net revenue for the quarter and 2% for the full year. However, the company's RTD tea line-up bucked the trend and recorded an impressive 11% growth for the year, lead by brands such as Gold Peak, Honest Tea and Fuze Tea. The numbers reflect solid growth in the broader ready-to-drink tea market in the US, which is expected to generate sales of $5.3 billion in 2014 and grow by an annual rate of 6% until 2018.
Peet's Coffee & Tea announced the opening of its new flagship store in San Francisco. The 2,500-square-foot store features plenty of natural materials and a bar designed to highlight how the beverages are made. The contemporary and minimalist design is intended to reflect its North Californian roots and a new brand identity for the locations of the coffee chain, which was acquired by a private investment fund in 2012. The flagship venue will also serve as a blueprint for other stores across the US, starting with Washington DC, where Peet's plans to roll out a set of new stores this spring.
The Specialty Food Association selected Ron Rubin of The Republic of Tea as the winner of 2014 Leadership Award. Rubin was chosen from 66 nominees for going "above and beyond" in advancing food standards in society and society itself by creating social, economic and environmental impact through innovation and vision. He purchased The Republic of Tea in 1994, which now offers over 300 varieties of loose teas and has been named one of the "Best Places to Work" by Outside Magazine two years in a row. The Republic of Tea and Ron Rubin himself support organizations such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Action to Hunger, Room to Read, Sunny Hills Services and The Ethical Tea Partnership.
ITO EN, the manufacturer of TEA'S TEA iced teas, started the New Year with a promotion that helps consumers keep their New Year's resolutions by giving away physical activity trackers. The Get Your Bits Fit campaign offers wireless wearable devices that sync to smartphones or computers to track physical activity stats, helping motivate daily fitness goals. The winter promotion rewards 31 daily winners on the company's Facebook page. ITO EN hopes to thereby raise awareness about its line of bottled teas that includes unsweetened and slightly sweetened varieties. The company recently slimmed down the packaging of its ready-to-drink beverage bottles to 18.7 grams, compared to the industry standard of 24 grams.
Reily Foods announced the acquisition of the New England Tea & Coffee, one of the country's largest independent coffee roasters. New England Tea & Coffee, based in Malden, MA, is New England's largest independent coffee roaster and manufactures bagged coffees, flavored coffees and single serve cups. The company, founded in 1916, employs more than 200 people and its beverages are brewed in over 5,000 foodservice locations across the US. While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, New England Tea & Coffee is expected to continue all production and distribution activities as usual. The company will complement Reily Foods' portfolio of coffee and tea brands that include Luzianne Coffee, Luzianne Tea, French Market Coffee, CDM Coffee, and JFG Coffee.
The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, a California-based coffee chain, appointed former Dunkin' Brands and McDonald's executive John Dawson as president and chief executive. Dawson replaces Mel Elias, who was president and CEO since 2008, and has been with the company since it opened its first franchise locations in Singapore in 1996. Under Dawson, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is expected to add to its lineup of more than 900 stores in nearly 30 countries, including more than 300 in the US. The management change comes after three private-equity firms acquired a significant stake in The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in September 2013. One of the firms is represented by Will Kussell, former president and chief brand officer of Dunkin’ Donuts.
ITO EN's latest innovation is a line of ready-to-drink coffee drinks sold under the Jay Street Coffee brand. The bottled drinks are fresh brewed from Arabica coffee beans and contain milk from dairy herds not treated with rBST. Flavors include mocha, latte and vanilla. ITON EN's office location in Jay Street in Brooklyn, New York served as inspiration for the brand name and packaging design elements. According to the company, ready-to-drink coffee was a natural product extension given its expertise in bottling freshly brewed teas. Another appealing reason is the category's 20% annual growth rate. Jay Street Coffee drinks will be available nationwide with a suggested retail price of $2.49.
Last week, Starbucks premiered the new concept of Teavana tea bar and store on the West Coast, in its hometown of Seattle. Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar, located in University Village, is Teavana's second tea bar after a similar one debuted in New York City a few weeks ago. The new outlet is a combination of a teashop and a tea bar, which is a departure from Teavana's previous retail-only model ubiquitous in shopping malls. The bar replaces Starbucks' own short-lived Tazo Tea store, which was already in the works when the coffee giant purchased Teavana last year. According to the company, the Tazo brand will continue to be used for packaged tea in supermarkets and Starbucks cafes. As for Teavana, there could be as many as a thousand new tea bars and stores opening in the years ahead. At the moment, Starbucks plans to own all of its new tea locations.
Typhoo Tea, a supermarket tea brand from the UK, reportedly planned to rely on fake customer complaints to lobby retailers that did not stock their teas. The tea company contracted Intelligent Marketing Solutions, a marketing firm, to hire field workers to pose as disgruntled customers in a bid to increase product shelf space. Workers were asked to contact Sainsbury's, one of UK's largest supermarket chains, and ask why the supermarket did not stock the brand in specific stores and whether it would be restocked. The marketing firm was prepared to pay £1.50 per call and £2.50 per email, and planned to rely on social media to complement the effort. Following the report in the Sunday Times, the campaign was suddenly suspended. Typhoo Tea has likely been pushed out of supermarket shelves in part due to the success of supermarket own-brand teas.
Honest Tea is facing a class action lawsuit in California over antioxidant content claims on product packaging. The lawsuit alleges that Honey Green Tea iced tea contains a quarter less antioxidants than claimed on the label and is thereby misleading consumers. Laboratory tests on plaintiff's behalf found an average of 187 mg of antioxidants per bottle, compared to 247 mg highlighted on the label. The plaintiff claims to have been misled in purchasing the product based on overstated antioxidant levels and would have opted for green tea in loose form or teabags instead.
A Japanese green tea manufacturer with a history stretching back 300 years opened its first overseas outlet in New York City. Hailing from Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, Ippodo specializes in artisanal green tea from Kyoto and the surrounding area. Some of the teas on sale include Sencha, Bancha, powdered Matcha and Gyokuro, the latter one available in many grades, including the finest variety called Tenka-ichi, with a $91 price tag for a 50-gram bag. A range of traditional tea accessories and matcha kits complements the tea range. Product demos, tea tastings and a take-way service are all part of this authentic Japanese tea experience. Expert staff are flown in from Kyoto to help customers discover the culture of Japanese tea. Ippodo is co-located with a Japanese restaurant in a townhouse in Murray Hill. The company operates dozens of outlets throughout Japan.
Dilmah Tea, founded 25 years ago, has become one of the biggest names in the tea business, especially in Sri Lanka. It is currently ranked among the world's top 10 tea brands and is the third largest exporter of tea in Sri Lanka, a country where tea is mainly exported as a commodity. According to Dilhan Fernando, the founder's son, commoditization of tea is the source of hardship and inequality in tea producing countries: the value is created in countries where the tea is sold, not where it is grown. Looking back, one of the keys to Dilmah's success was focusing on branded single-origin tea, instead of tea that is mixed and sold in bulk. This mission is alive and well to this day, as the company looks to reposition itself from mass to gourmet market and continue to create added value at home. Fernando also credits the format of family business as a means to ensure sustainability and responsibility in the industry.
Celestial Seasonings announced a new promotional sampling campaign allowing tea drinkers to send a tea sample to a friend or relative. The "From Me To You" promotion offers 25,000 fans a chance to request a delivery of seasonal teas to a special someone anywhere in the country. The company is thereby promoting its line of Christmas-themed teas, with blends featuring gingerbread, sugar cookies and candy cane flavors. The campaign will run via a dedicated Facebook app and with the help of partnering bloggers. 1,500 samples will be made available each day. The promotion runs until November 18th.
As Teavana opened the first tea bar in New York City last week and announced nationwide expansion plans, lost in the headlines were its ambitions for Canada, a country whose tea market has been growing steadily. Teavana already operates more than 50 outlets in Canada. Next year, the company plans a significant push from retail stores in shopping malls to tea bars in urban centers. According to a government agency, Canada's tea consumption is expected to rise 40% by 2020 driven by increasing health awareness. The brew is already the fifth most popular beverage, with nearly 10 billion cups drunk each year. Differently than the US, Canada is a hot tea drinking nation, mainly due to its British heritage. This represents a big opportunity for companies like Teavana or Davids Tea that specialize in loose leaf teas. Furthermore, the country has shown a willingness to embrace flavored teas and experiment with alcohol-infused mixes.
David Ziegert is to become the new president of Celestial Seasonings, as the company tries to maintain a leadership position in the herbal tea market, while continuing to develop the brand in other areas. David Ziegert, a 19-year veteran of the Boulder tea company, replaces Peter Burns, Celestial Seasonings' president of the past five years, who refocused the company on its core business and advanced product innovation and design during his tenure. Under his supervision, the company branched out into ready-to-drink beverages, energy shots and K-Cups, and added many new flavors to the herbal tea range. Ziegert is likely to continue in this direction, working on new product development and acquisitions. Hain, the parent company of Celestial Seasonings, reported a net income of $114 million on $1.7 billion revenue during the last fiscal year.
Starbucks picked New York City for its first Teavana tea bar, as the coffee behemoth seeks to transpose its success onto the tea market after acquiring Teavana for $620 million last year. Teavana Fine Teas + Teavana Tea Bar, located in Manhattan's Upper East Side, aspires to have a "zen-like" atmosphere and will serve snacks, sweets and flatbreads next to a wide variety of loose teas. According to the company's CEO, Teavana is expected to open 1,000 such bars in the next five years. Also, Starbucks is not concerned about cannibalization between both businesses, because most tea drinkers do not cross over to coffee. The company may slowly add tea bars to existing Teavana locations and is likely to expand internationally while growing the business in the US.
Tea2Go, a Texas-based startup tea supplier, is looking to diversify into tea retail thanks to a network of company-owned stores and franchises. Founded just a year ago, Tea2Go started out by supplying stevia-sweetened flavored teas to restaurants. Now, the company is opening several company-owned stores and expects many franchises to join ranks in the months ahead. According to Tea2Go, contracts are signed with 47 franchises across the country. The stores feature up to 120 tea blends that can be purchased loose for home brewing and a counter that serves beverages. Some locations will have children’s areas and laptop lounges.
Hilton Garden Inn announced a deal to have all rooms in the US and Canada equipped with Keurig single-serve machines. In partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, the coffee, tea and beverage offering in over 73,000 guest rooms will be upgraded to meet the requirements of frequent travellers. In a recent survey, high-frequency travellers cited in-room coffee as the second most important amenity, behind only WiFi, and 78% considered it important. Guests in the US will be offered four complimentary K-Cup packs: two Diedrichs Regular Coffee, one Diedrichs Decaffeinated Coffee and one Bigelow Black Tea. Additional single-serve packs will be available for purchase in the lobby area.
Caribou Coffee locations in Pittsburgh, PA are the latest example of the ongoing transition from Caribou to Peet's Coffee and Tea brands. Four Caribou stores will close imminently and reopen as Peet's in a few weeks' time. They are part of 88 nationwide stores that will be rebranded through 2014. That's on top of 80 locations that recently shut down. Following the shakeup, more than 610 Caribou Coffee stores will still remain open, with almost half of them in Minnesota, where the company was founded more than 20 years ago. A German investment firm purchased both Caribou and Peet's within the last 12 months.
TEAloe, a start-up iced tea manufacturer, scooped this year's top prize in the Best Ready-To-Drink Tea category at the international Beverage Innovation Awards. It was the third award this year for TEAloe, a tea industry newcomer that was already crowned with top honors at the North American Tea Championship. TEAloe is a combination of organic, fair-trade green tea and bits of organic aloe vera. It was singled out from over 370 entries from 40 countries around the world, which were divided into 29 categories. TEAloe is available in four flavors: Original, Peach, Passion Fruit and the award-winning Mint. It can be purchased in Safeway, The Fresh Market and select Whole Foods.
Three private-equity firms acquired a significant equity stake in The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, a premium coffee and tea retailer. Investors include US-based Advent International, as well as CDIB Capital and Mirae Asset Private Equity from Hong-Kong. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is one of the world's largest independent and privately owned coffee and tea retailers, with over 900 locations in 30 countries and a particularly strong presence in Asia. For example, the company operates about 250 locations in South Korea alone, and has been expanding aggressively in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. According to the company's CEO, there is still significant growth potential in the US and Asia, as The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf plans to add more company and franchisee-owned stores. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
New Zealand's oolong tea manufacturer Zealong Tea recently sold its original tea farm in order to distance itself from a feud with the neighbors. The complaints stem from Zealong's one-time use of a helicopter to combat frost damage during harvest. Since the company did not get a green light from local authorities to use the helicopter again this year, it decided to get rid of the property rather than put future harvests at risk. The residential-zoned plantation, established 8 years ago, produces 4 tons of leaves per year, worth $2 million. Zealong will now concentrate on developing its big tea farm and tourist attraction at a nearby rural town of Gordonton. A local residential property developer purchased the 11-hectare land.
Unilever has signed an agreement to purchase T2, a specialty tea retailer in Australia. The deal is seen as a means for Unilever, which operates Lipton and Bushells brands down under, to get a foothold in Australia's premium tea market. Founded in 1996, T2 had a rough start with its business model centered around tea retail experience, as it failed to secure access to bank finance and did not turn a profit for four years. The company currently operates over 40 locations across the continent. It generated double-digit growth and sales of $52 million in the 12 months ending 30 June 2013. Both companies expect to capitalize on benefits of scale and shared tea category expertise. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Tempest in a Teapot, a small tea company from Stonington, ME, will feature its products in celebrity gift bags at the Emmys next month. The company's blends were discovered through an online directory of 1700 products manufactured in Maine. Tempest in a Teapot offers a range of traditional teas mixed with local herbs such as rugosa rose hips. News came as a surprise to the very small company owned by two stay-at-home moms and started on $500 a year and a half ago. The owners will rely on friends and neighbors to prepare 80 gift boxes made up of two undisclosed varieties. They plan to launch a new line of teas to coincide with the event.
A federal judge in California dismissed a class action lawsuit claiming that Tetley misled consumers about the health benefits of tea. The lawsuit against Tetley USA, part of Tata Global Beverages group, centered around antioxidant, nutrient content and health claims made on the website and packaging. It alleged that claims such as "natural source of antioxidants" were illegal under the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act as adopted in California law. Furthermore, antioxidant content claims were said to be unlawful, because they failed to comply with Recommended Daily Intake guidelines, which are actually not even set for antioxidants. The judge threw out the lawsuit because it failed to properly define the list of Tetley products in question, but gave attorneys fifteen days to amend the complaint.
Coca-Cola abandoned a significant legal challenge against an Australian tea company that sells its products under Honest Tea trademark. The brand was trademarked in Australia in 2005 to sell a range of iced teas and loose leaf teas. According to the manager of the local tea company, the legal challenge took its toll on the business, citing difficulties in recruiting workers and finding new distributors. The Guardian article also claims that Coca-Cola hired a private investigator to examine the business and whether the trademark was being actively used. The withdrawal of the lawsuit is seen as a victory for small business against legal bullying from large multinationals. Coca-Cola already challenged the trademark in 2011, when it acquired the US-based Honest Tea. Previous to that, the US-based Honest Tea also unsuccessfully challenged the trademark back in 2007.
Some of UK's biggest tea companies hope to reverse decreasing sales by focusing on young drinkers and niche growth markets. The explosion of coffee chains and the emergence of healthier soft drinks are causing a slow, yet steady decline of traditional tea in the UK. Also, shoppers have warmed up to specialty tea and are increasingly embracing new types of tea, such as green and herbal. PG Tips, Tetley, Twinings and Yorkshire Tea are all adjusting their marketing efforts to these new market realities. The companies now focus on recruiting new and younger drinkers that have a more open-minded approach to tea. Reflecting this trend, an increasing part of advertising and marketing is channeled through digital media.
Following strong quarterly results, Starbucks reaffirmed its commitment to expand aggressively in tea-drinking countries like China. Despite tea being deeply embedded in many Asian countries, the coffee giant posted a 30% revenue growth in the Asia-Pacific region and very strong sales volumes in China, where it has been expanding in second-tier cities such as Dalian and Hangzhou. Starbucks will open its thousandth store in China later on this year and the Asian country is set overtake Canada to become its second-largest market in 2014. According to Euromonitor, overall coffee sales grew 10% in China over the last 5 years, well ahead of neighboring big markets and global growth average. That said, coffee maintains less than 1% of the country’s hot-drink market share, whereas tea has 54%.
The Republic of Tea was named to Outside Magazine's "Best Places to Work" 2013 list for a second year. The company came in at number 70 and was the only specialty tea company to be featured. The project rates US companies for setting a high standard for work-life balance by evaluating benefits, compensation, policies, job satisfaction, environmental initiatives and community outreach programs. The Republic of Tea offers employees paid time off for volunteering, profit sharing, a scholarship program, childcare credit and yearly trips to tea producing countries. The company also has an employee health program, which includes credits towards gym memberships, nutritionist counseling and yoga classes.
Peet's Coffee & Tea, a specialty tea and coffee company from California, announced its biggest retail expansion in the company's 47-year history. With the opening of a store in Solon, OH, Peet's is embarking on a huge growth plan in the Midwest and the East Coast, which will see more than 90 new stores open over the next 18 months. 10 stores will open in Cleveland, OH in former Caribou Coffee locations and 8 in Columbus, OH throughout the next couple of months. Later this year, more openings are expected in Pennsylvania and Michigan. In 2014, stores will continue to pop up across the Midwest and the East Coast. A German investment group purchased Peet's Coffee & Tea for about $1 billion last year and later added Caribou Coffee for $340 million.
Argo Tea recently opened a cafe in a newly restored park in its hometown of Chicago. The greenhouse-inspired cafe features sustainable elements, including recyclable packaging, native landscaping with drought-tolerant plant varieties and natural irrigation, and wind energy power from the purchase of renewable energy credits. Argo Tea worked together with city authorities to restore and revitalize the park. The company currently operates 27 cafes in the US and abroad, with more than 15 locations scheduled to open in the next 12 months.
Rishi Tea plans to tap several funding sources to help finance its proposed new headquarters in Milwaukee, WI. The company, which blends, packages and distributes specialty teas, is seeking $1.86 million from the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp., a city-affiliated lender, to pay for the $4.7 million project. Remaining funding is expected to come in the form of a loan from a regional bank, as well as from equity financing. The new headquarters, located on a 3.8-acre site at a city-owned business park, would feature a 48,000-square-foot facility with office, production and storage space. Rishi Tea hopes the new headquarters will help sustain its annual growth of approximately 10%. The company currently employs 46 people and plans add 20 more over the next few years.
UK tea and confectionary business Bettys and Taylors Group, owner of Taylors of Harrogate tea and coffee brand and six Betty's Café tea rooms, announced profits equaling £10 million ($14.8 million) for the first time in company's history. Pre-tax profit grew by £2.2m to £10m, while turnover rose by 14 percent to £133.2m in the year to October 31, 2012. Strong sales across both businesses contributed to these record results. In 2012, the group also gave 1,293 employees the equivalent of an additional six weeks' pay through the group profit share scheme, which has been operating for 30 years.
According to an internal report by Coca-Cola's main bottler in Europe, the company is looking for ways to get people to swap tea and coffee for soft drinks at the breakfast table. One of the five growth strategies for the UK and Europe, called "Complete the Meal", notes that breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day and is accompanied by a quarter of daily beverage intake. Amidst dwindling soft drink sales, the beverage giant is looking for ways to motivate people to make juices, smoothies and other soft drinks part of the morning ritual, similar to tea and coffee. Other strategies presented in the "See the Opportunity" report include diversifying into relaxation drinks and highlighting other occasions to consume soft drinks during the day.
Speaking at the Jeffries Global Consumer Conference in Nantucket, Troy Alstead, chief financial officer and chief administrative officer for Starbucks, set out the company's vision for the newly acquired tea retailer. The company is likely to adopt a dual approach with Teavana. First, it plans to expand the number of stand-alone stores starting this fall. Second, it will widen the availability of Teavana's products in Starbucks stores, thereby creating another occasion to visit them. Because tea is usually consumed at a different time of the day than coffee, it should attract visitors in the afternoon, evening and on weekends, when coffee consumption is relatively low. Tea aside, Starbucks' focus will also shift to food items purchased with beverages, such as lunch and afternoon snacks, as Alstead conceded that food quality had previously fallen short of customer expectations.
The CEO of Honest Tea expects sales to exceed $100 million this year thanks to wide distribution network of The Coca-Cola Co, its parent company. Seth Goldman also attributes growing nationwide awareness and availability of healthier, organic and Fair Trade beverages to Coke's investment in the company back in 2007. The vast distribution reach enabled Honest Tea to increase the number of sales outlets from 15,000 to 100,000 in 5 years, which helped bring organic and Fair Trade products into the US mainstream. According to Goldman, suppliers and producing communities also feel these positive results, with Honest Tea purchasing over 6 million pounds of organic ingredients this year, almost ten times more than before Coke's investment.
VMG Partners, a private equity investment firm specializing in branded consumer products, is looking to sells its stake in Mighty Leaf Tea Co. William Blair & Co, an investment bank, was hired to handle the sale process and seek strategic buyers for the specialty tea manufacturer. Mighty Leaf supplies premium teas to hotels, restaurants and specialty retailers. VMG Partners purchased a roughly 20% stake in Mighty Leaf in 2007 for an undisclosed amount. At the time, annual revenue was approximately $15 million. Current annual revenue is estimated at $40 million. The move is part of a broader push by VMG Partners to divest from an investment fund focused on consumer food and beverage brands.
A federal court in California allowed a class action lawsuit against Twinings to proceed, albeit partially. The lawsuit, filed just over a year ago, alleges that Twinings, owned by Associated British Foods, broke the law by labeling green, black, white and red teas as a "natural source of antioxidants". However, the court dismissed claims related to red tea, also known as rooibos, because it comes from a different plant than real tea. But the court allowed the plaintiff to add to her complaint numerous products that she did not actually buy, but that made the same claims. In the latest twist, the parties agreed on mediation with the possibility of settling the dispute out of court.
Steeped Tea, a direct sales tea company from Canada, is looking to replicate its success story in the US. Launched six years ago, Steeped Tea grew five-fold since appearing on a reality TV program to secure venture capital funding late last year. The company currently relies on 2,500 consultants for direct sales of loose leaf tea in Canada. Last month, Steeped Tea quietly started expanding its operations in the US by recruiting almost 60 consultants acting as direct sellers. But the company does not plan to stop there: 10,000 US-based consultants are expected to join the ranks in the next three years. Steeped Tea presently employs 46 warehouse and office staff, although its workforce is set to grow to 70 in the months ahead.
Leonard Marsh, one of the three founders of Snapple, recently passed away on Long Island, NY. Marsh started his career as a window washer and founded Unadulterated Food Products, the precursor to Snapple Beverage Corporation, with his brother-in-law and a childhood friend in 1972. A part-time venture turned into a beverage empire thanks to a wide offer of more healthful drink options, such as fruit juices and iced teas. After the Quaker Oats Company purchased Snapple for $1.7 billion in 1994, Marsh stayed on for a few years as executive vice president for planning. The Dr Pepper Snapple Group now owns the company, which currently manufactures juices, fruit punches, teas and other beverages.
Despite an arduous litigation process that resulted in ownership and management changes at its parent company, Yogi Tea has manged to sustain growth. The ownership of the company, founded by the late Yogi Bhajan, was returned to the Sikh community following a court ruling back in 2011. Having initially built distribution through natural food stores, Yogi Tea has recently been successfully expanding into grocery stores. According to court documents, Yogi Tea had sales of $27 million in 2009 and currently has a 4% share of the US bagged and loose tea market. Revenue is now equally split between the US and Europe. However, the company remains involved in a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Yogi Bhajan's widow.
In a bid to consolidate pricing and product strategies across 26 stores, Argo Tea now relies on network-enabled digital signage boards. The company installed 78 digital menu boards, manufactured by BrightSign, that allow to remotely update their content from its headquarters in Chicago. The process enables a centralized control of prices, product images, promotions and calorie count on menu boards across locations in Chicago, New York City, St. Louis, Boston, Beirut and Abu Dhabi. If needed, the system can divide stores into groups to offer customized content according to region. It also offers the possibility to automatically change the menus displayed during the course of the day.
Tregothnan Estate is seeing its efforts to grow tea in an unexpected place pay off, as Britain's only tea plantation makes inroads in the UK and abroad. The idea to grow tea was born when the estate manager noticed a flower, originally from north India, bloom earlier in the special microclimate of the farm than in India. Since 2005, Tregothnan Estate expanded tea plantations by 6,000 bushes annually. This year's tea harvest is expected to come in at about 10 tons and produce 35 distinct varieties. The company enjoys a growing following at home, as Brits continue to transition from traditional "builder's tea" to herbal, green and specialty teas. More recently, these exclusive British teas caught the eye of Chinese tea connoisseurs and the company now plans to open a teashop in Shanghai by November, followed by a chain of teahouses in the UK.
The Queens' Tea, a Utah-based manufacturer of specialty teas, created a crowdsourced fundraising campaign in an effort to support the opening of its first retail location. The company is seeking to gather $20,000 on RocketHub to finance its foray into brick and mortar. According to the description, funds will be used for a variety of projects associated with business expansion. They will help transition into a new physical location, secure a larger commercial kitchen space and purchase refrigeration and packaging equipment. The Queen's Tea plans to open its first outlet in Salt Lake City, UT.
Teatulia Organic Teas announced that its tea garden in Bangladesh achieved Rainforest Alliance certification. The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization that works to conserve biodiversity, develop standards for sustainability and improve worker welfare. The tea plantation is the first one in Bangladesh to obtain this certification. The Teatulia Cooperative, which produces over 700,000 pounds of tea and herbs per year, now requires that all farm workers be trained in good agricultural practices in accordance with Rainforest Alliance standards. According to the company, this underscores its continued commitment to environmental and social stewardship.
In response to sluggish sales in Europe and the US, Unilever announced plans to increase the stake in its Indian subsidiary by $5.4 billion. The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant and manufacturer of Lipton tea is seeking greater control over local operations and would own 75% of Hindustan Unilever, compared to 52% now. The move comes as growth slowed markedly in North America and Europe, the latter having recorded the slowest quarterly growth in two years. Hindustan Unilever, which owns a third of India's consumer goods market, is expected to benefit from India's growing economy, company's expansion into rural areas and lower raw material prices. Its market share is projected to increase to 44 percent, or $14.2bn, by 2017. The acquisition is the company's biggest since its 2000 purchase of Best Foods for $23bn.
According to a report by a security expert, Teavana may have suffered a severe data breach that compromised clients' credit and debit card information. Multiple sources in law enforcement and the financial community cite fraud rates indicative of a data breach coming from many, if not all of its 280 locations nationwide. A likely scenario is that hackers gathered customer credit card information using malicious software installed on point-of-sale devices at the register. One debit and credit card issuer was alerted about this more than a month ago following a spike in fraudulent charges from counterfeit cards that were used to purchase expensive gift cards. A spokesperson for Teavana said that the company does not comment on ongoing investigations.
Unilever, owner of Lipton tea brand, has filed an international patent for a system to extract juice from tealeaves. The company claims that tea juice benefits from improved taste and color, as well as higher polyphenol content compared to brewed leaves. In Lipton's case, it may be used in iced teas or for various types of concentrates. The patent describes a process where the leaves are withered and crushed after plucking to cut moisture content and liberate enzymes. Then, they are heated to a temperature of between 40 and 77 degree Celsius and pressed for a period ranging from 30 seconds to five minutes. The result is 100 to 200 milliliters of tea juice from a kilogram of green, black or oolong tealeaves. The remaining leaves can still be used to manufacture conventional tea products.
A young entrepreneur, who graduated from the university just a couple of years ago, is celebrating the opening of her tea company's first in-store concession. The Teashed, a design-led tea, teaware and homeware company based in the UK, was set up after Jules Quinn graduated with a degree in fashion marketing in 2011. The project was developed with the help of her university's graduate enterprise program. Since then, the Teashed established a presence online and its products are already stocked in several department stores across the country. Now, the company is getting ready to open its first pop-up stand in a large department store in northern England. After that, the company plans to launch a chain of pop-up shops and has its sights on becoming the leading specialty tea retailer in the UK.
Caribou Coffee announced plans to shed a significant part of its underperforming locations and rebrand many others. The Minneapolis-based coffee company will effectively pull out of Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Georgia by closing 80 stores over the coming days. Further 88 locations will be converted to Peet's Coffee & Tea brand in the next 12 to 18 months. After the downsizing exercise, Caribou Coffee is expected to have 468 locations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Western Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, Colorado and 10 international markets. The company was taken private this year in a $340 million deal with Joh. A. Benckiser, a German investment firm that purchased Peet's Tea & Coffee for $947 million last year.
JAB, a group led by Joh. A. Benckiser is in talks to acquire coffee and tea manufacturer DE Master Blenders for $9.7 billion. The Amsterdam-based DE Master Blenders is the coffee and tea branch spun off by Sara Lee Corp. in 2012 and owns Pickwick and Tea Forté tea brands. The offer, subject to a financial review, is in an early stage and values the company at a 33% premium to the closing price of the previous day. Master Blenders would become the latest addition to the growing portfolio of JAB's tea and coffee investments, which include recent purchases of Peet’s Coffee & Tea Inc. for about $1 billion and Caribou Coffee Co. for $340 million. There is speculation that JAB submitted the offer for Master Blenders in response to interest from AB InBev, the world's largest beer brewer.
Two young entrepreneurs have launched a brand of kava tea drinks thanks to a food business incubator in Long Island City, NY. The beverage line is based on the kava root, a plant found in the Pacific and believed to relieve stress thanks to a compound called Kavalactone. A large commercial kitchen, also known as a food incubator, available for rent by the day made King Kava possible by greatly reducing the costs of starting a business. King Kava was launched last June with an investment of less than $20,000 and is already present in 30 stores citywide. The caffeine-free organic drinks, which are available in mint lemon and ginger citrus flavors, recently started selling at the Whole Foods Market in TiBeCa.
Chicago-based tea cafe chain Argo Tea is pulled in different directions by the core cafe business and the growing potential of its retail products. The company currently operates over 20 locations in Chicago, Boston, New York and St. Louis, as well as one in Beirut, Lebanon. But recently, most of the growth has been coming from its line of bottled ready-to-drink teas launched just two years ago. The range of 8 flavors currently represents 20% of annual sales of $20million, but that share may reach up to 50% this year thanks to widespread availability in 10,000 retail stores at Walgreen, Safeway and 7-Eleven. For its cafe strategy, Argo Tea will focus on licensing to increase the number of locations in high-traffic areas like hospitals, universities and airports. The company also plans to expand in the Middle East, with outlets in Qatar, Dubai and Kuwait.
Unilever, the parent company of Lipton Tea, unveiled plans to invest $96 million in upgrading its manufacturing operations in Suffolk, VA. The facility, which was set up 58 years ago and currently employs 300 people, produces the majority of Lipton's teabags sold in North America. The five-year investment program will focus on facility upgrades and new production machinery. Virginia had fought to have the project retained at Suffolk, competing with Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina. A $1 million performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Program was approved by the state. Lipton's Suffolk factory is the largest tea production plant in the US.
Teasenz, a new online venture, enables direct trade between farmers and consumers. Based in Hong Kong, Teasenz hopes to capitalize on consumers' pursuit of fresh premium teas at affordable cost. Instead of shipping large quantities of leaves overseas for reprocessing and packaging, the teas are individually packed in China and are sent directly to the consumer. According to the company, this reduces the cost of tea by up to 70% compared to a local tea store. White and green teas are the most prone to losing flavor due to bulk shipping, so the company sources them directly from farmers in Chinese tea regions such as the West Lake area near Hangzhou and packages them immediately into tea pouches.
The Tea Spot, a tea and teaware manufacturer from Boulder, CO., struck a deal with Germany's Finum to distribute its tea accessories in Europe and Russia. Finum, a company based in Hamburg, is a renowned manufacturer of paper tea filters and offers a range of proprietary tea filters and housewares. The partnership will see Finum start distributing The Tea Spot's Steep & Go, a cold-brew bottle filter that pairs with disposable water bottles and allows drinkers to brew fresh tea in a water bottle in ten minutes. According to the CEO of The Tea Spot, the deal makes sense because both companies share similar values in terms of product quality, excellence and innovation.
Tea Cuvée is a start-up iced tea manufacturer from Boston, MA, seeking to redefine how iced tea should taste. The founder points out that bottled tea beverages are often made with inferior and artificial tea concentrates to save on costs. Tea Cuvée, a reference to cuvée de prestige or a wine producer's top product line, is based on a superior alternative: cold-brewed iced tea. The unique feature is the time-consuming brewing process, which allows for flavors to be drawn out of the leaves slowly without releasing much astringency or bitterness. The company currently offers two flavors: the Moonight label, flavored with apricot and jasmine, and the Amber label, scented with rosemary and orange. The upscale beverage is distributed across Massachusetts and retails for $8.99.
Following the trend of beer microbreweries and premium coffee, interest in superior tea is growing steadily. According to the director of tea at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, customers across its 850 outlets are becoming more sophisticated when it comes to choosing their brew. More specifically, customers seem to focus increasingly on the quality of tea itself, rather than on the health benefits, a feature mostly responsible for the sector's growth in recent years. Drinkers are keen to know where the tea is grown and how it is harvested and processed. Furthermore, there may be a deeper shift in lifestyle that is causing this newfound interest in tea. People prefer to take time to enjoy the process of drinking tea in order to unwind and socialize. For many, superior tea simply does not fit the intense on-the-go way of life.
Townshend's Tea Company, a chain of teahouses in Portland, Oregon, is looking to continue its expansion beyond city borders. After opening several locations in Portland and one in Bend, the company plans to establish the next one in Eugene. The outlets share a coffeehouse atmosphere, which is reflected in comfortable seating, local artwork and computer-friendly spaces. The company has grown rapidly in recent years, posting a solid 100% increase in sales in 2012 alone. Teahouse operations accounted for a quarter of the growth, with the rest coming from local distribution of Kombucha, a type of fermented tea. Townshend's Tea is funding the equipment of the new location with its own money and plans to avoid franchising for the time being.
Tealet, a startup based in Hawaii, puts a new spin on the tea business by connecting tea farmers and tea drinkers via an online platform. Teas are sourced directly from growers in China, Japan, India and other countries across Asia. They are sold by the ounce or based on a subscription model, where customers may purchase a bimonthly supply of different varieties. The idea is to enable growers to sell directly to consumers in order maximize value for both by circumventing the traditional distribution network of various middlemen. Tealet also encourages interaction between growers and drinkers, and allows farmers to share their stories about how each variety is made.
Amanzi Tea, a gourmet tea retailer from South Carolina, will open its first international location in the UK this month. The company currently operates an e-commerce website, a wholesale business and a teashop in Greenville, SC. The new location, based in London, will house a bar together with a retail shop and table seating on ground level, as well as a comfortable lounge area on the lower-ground. The outlet will offer 40 tea varieties brewed using precision boilers for perfect temperature control. The tea selection will rotate to include Amanzi Tea's 150 proprietary blends. Other beverages and snacks will also be served.
Tregothnan, a tea estate in England, relies on the country's reputation as a nation of tea-lovers to promote locally grown tea abroad. The tea garden, located in southwest England, is the only tea plantation in England and is headed by the descendants of Prime Minister Charles Grey, after whom the Earl Grey blend is named. The tiny plantation that opened in 2005 currently produces about 10 metric tons of tea and infusions. Trengothnan is focused on the high-end domestic market, but is also leveraging England's perceived expertise in the tea world to garner interest from abroad. Sales are projected to exceed $3 million in 2013, with half coming from exports. The estate plans to open a franchise of teahouses in China, following serious interest from Chinese investors.
Minto Island Growers, a small-scale farm cultivating and selling vegetables and plants, is ready to take on a rather unconventional challenge: tea production. The first step was to identify which varieties of tea bushes were most suitable for the local climate, a process that took over twenty years. Now that the farm has a half-acre dedicated to tea, its sights are set on the next stage: harvesting and processing the leaves on-site on a larger scale. The company has already reported a high level of interest from nearby tea bars, food stores and tea companies, all thirsty for home-grown produce. Despite mixed assessments from horticulturalists, Minto Island Growers will devote more land to this project in 2013, with additional two to three acres allocated to tea plants. The growers also applied for a federal grant to help cover the costs of processing, packaging and marketing their tea. They remain upbeat about their prospects based on positive feedback from their customer base.
French premium tea purveyor Le Palais des Thés hopes that tea can join the ranks of products associated with France, such as wine and cheese. The new flagship store, which opened last week in the SoHo district in Manhattan, houses 120 varieties of tea and lets customers interact with the leaves. The 700-square-foot store was created to give visitors the opportunity to see, taste and smell the varieties on display, with prices ranging from $8 to $130 per 3.5 ounces. According to a company executive, the French have a similar expertise for tea as they do for other gourmet treats. Therefore, the location was chosen based on the premise that SoHo residents are receptive to European brands. Le Palais des Thé opened another store in Upper West Side in November 2012.
After years of promoting green, white and iced tea, Lipton's latest advertising campaign is devoted the core business of the company, namely black tea. The national campaign is the first in over 20 years to feature black tea, which is by far the most consumed type of tea in the US with 85% of the market. According to market data, Lipton led the $1.16 billion category with $265 million in sales in 2012, well in front of Bigelow at $117 million. The multi-channel campaign is centered around the pleasure and the resulting uplifting feeling of drinking tea and includes television, digital, in-store, social, public relations and a worldwide contest on Instagram. Lipton's budget for this campaign is estimated to top $10 million, compared to $5 million that the company spent on advertising last year.
In the latest corporate social responsibility report, Honest Tea sheds light on major initiatives that it is currently implementing. The iced tea manufacturer that was purchased by Coca-Cola in 2011 and is present in over 100,000 stores reaffirmed its commitment to Fair Trade practices, with an estimated $350,000 gathered in premiums since 2003. In terms of purchases, Honest Tea has bought 4.4 million pounds of organic tea leaves last year. By reducing the weight of outer cartons by 0.56oz, the company saved 354,000 pounds of packaging material, while simultaneously reducing fuel consumption to transport the goods from plant to store. Finally, the company is working on consolidating its production by shutting two production facilities in Oregon and replacing them with a new plant in northern California.
In response to rising demand for quality tea in restaurants across the US, China Mist Tea Company announces the launch of two additional tea brands geared towards the foodservice sector. DJ's TeaMarket Blends and Signature Tea aim to improve the quality of tea in a market historically dominated by low quality tea. DJ's TeaMarket Blends is positioned as a mid-market brand, whereas Signature Tea is value-priced and represents an alternative to low-end teas that may taste astringent. The current portfolio is intended to offer restaurants a wider choice of brands to match varying customer demand, as awareness of quality tea continues to develop in all markets. Tea is often the highest profit margin item on the menu.
An affiliate of Joh. A. Benckiser Group agreed to purchase Caribou Coffee for about $340 million. The German investment company offered stockholders $16 per share, a premium of about 30% on Friday's stock closing price. Earlier this year, Benckiser purchased Peet's Coffee and Tea for approximately $1 billion and will now have more than 800 US outlets combined. That makes it the second largest purveyor of premium coffee in the US behind Starbucks Corp. Caribou Coffee, founded in 1992, operates its own outlets and licences its coffee to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters for its Keurig single-cup coffee brewers. It reported a 3.5% rise in comparable-stores sales in the third quarter.
The CEO of D E Master Blenders, the coffee and tea company spun off by Sara Lee Corp, will depart at the end of 2012, after just 12 months in charge. According to D E Master Blenders, the company will part ways with Michiel Herkemij by mutual consent over differences of opinion relating to the speed of implementation of strategic changes. D E Master Blenders, owner of Pickwick and Tea Forte tea brands and Senseo single-serve coffee machine, is trailing competitors like Kraft Foods and Nestlé. The outgoing CEO had hoped to catch up to the competition by implementing a strategy based on innovation and product premiumization. As a result, the company has recently revamped its Senseo single-serve coffee system with new packaging and flavors. It has also introduced a new machine that uses whole beans, aimed at the specialty coffee market.
Starbucks Corp. announced plans to significantly expand its operations at home and abroad. The coffee chain, which operates over 18,000 shops around the world, expects to open 3,000 new stores in the Americas by 2017, with over half of the new outlets popping up in the US. Starbucks also looks to increasingly rely on tea and juice sectors to drive growth thanks to Evolution Fresh and Teavana brands acquired in recent months. The goal at Teavana will be to add tea bars featuring tea-based beverages to the existing offer of dry leaves. Starbucks may also start selling Teavana's teas in its own outlets. The coffee retailer also expects China to overtake Canada as its second biggest market in 2014 and plans to have nearly 4,000 cafes in Asia by the end of 2013.
Argo Tea recently unveiled a new location at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. The tea café, also called "teaosk", has an area of only 500 square feet, but is already the company's third spot at O'Hare Airport and second in Terminal 3. It offers more than 30 tea-based beverages and more than 30 varieties of loose tea, along with a selection of tea accessories and gift items. Argo Tea hopes to capitalize on the growing trend of travellers seeking out healthier options when on the road. According to the CEO, the company will continue to expand its presence in the travel category in the US and abroad. Argo Tea now operates more than 30 café locations. It recently opened its first international outlet in Beirut, Lebanon.
Stash Tea, a purveyor of specialty teas, opened its second retail outlet in Portland, OR. The 1,500-square-foot space also houses the company's first tea bar with seating for seven people. Best known for its teabag range sold in supermarkets, Stash Tea is playing catch-up with other competitors, many of whom have already diversified into the tea retail channel. The company took the premises over in May and spent six months refurbishing them. The priority was to replace water-damaged flooring and open up sight lanes. In terms of style, the setting looks clean and minimalistic despite the presence of several brewing devices and other equipment. The store also carries over 300 teas, including a few rare varieties. Holiday specials, lattes, ciders and hot chocolates made with Lapsang Souchong tea are featured at the tea bar.
The Shareholders Foundation, an investment portfolio-monitoring firm, announced a lawsuit that seeks to block Starbucks' takeover of specialty tea retailer Teavana. The lawsuit is filed by an investor in Teavana and aims to halt a major deal that was struck just days ago. On November 14, Starbucks announced that it has agreed to purchase Teavana for $620 million or $15.50 per share in an all-cash transaction. But based on previous share price of above $20 and a target price of $24 issued by one analyst, the plaintiff claims that the purchase price is unfair to shareholders and undervalues the company. According to the same plaintiff, the sale process has also been unfair to Teavana's investors.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, the second-largest coffee chain in the US, recently opened its first two outlets in Thailand in a bid to increase exposure to Asia. With 300 stores in the US and 875 stores overall, the chain hopes to double the number of outlets in Asia, which already stands at 520, within the next five years. According to the company, the hardest part was to find the right partner to run the local operation. In the end, it decided to team up with Fico Corporation, a hotel and retail business operator and now expects to open up to 75 stores in Thailand over the next five years. The outlets will range from small kiosks to full-scale stores. The specialty coffee and tea retailer hopes to tap Thailand's growing appetite for gourmet coffee, a market expected to increase by over 10% next year.
A team of social entrepreneurs has launched a tea company specializing in premium and rare teas exclusively from Nepal. Nepali Tea Traders is the first company in America to offer over twenty specialty teas from small gardens in Nepal, which is one of the poorest countries in Asia. The range includes natural and organic black, green, oolong and white teas that are grown at ideal altitudes of 4,000 to 8,000 feet. The Colorado-based company has made a commitment to donate its profits to the Nepal Youth Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides health care, education and social services to the children of Nepal. The company also offers a range of teabags and tea accessories, and plans to introduce a retail range in 2013.
In a landmark deal for the US tea industry, Starbucks agreed to buy Teavana for $620 million in cash. The purchase of Teavana's 300 shopping mall locations mostly in the US and Canada is a clear signal that Starbucks intends to move beyond cafes, whose sales are lagging in regions where tea is more popular than coffee. For Teavana, the deal is set pave the way for rapid growth beyond North America by tapping the experience and expertise of its new parent company. According to Starbucks, the company will seek to replicate its success in the coffee business by offering more tea-based specialty beverages that can be enjoyed in-stores or on the go. By the same token, Starbucks plans to expand the newly acquired company into the consumer packaged goods category with a line of teas destined for the supermarket sector. The coffee giant offered $15.50 per share to Teavana's shareholders, which was 10 percent below what the stock was priced at on its initial public offering last year.
One of the most famous tea brands in the world, Tetley Tea is getting ready to celebrate its 175th anniversary this year. Launched in 1837, the company has developed into the world's second largest manufacturer and distributor of tea, as well as the largest tea company in the UK and Canada, and the second largest in the US by volume. Having introduced the first teabag to the UK market in 1953, Tetley Tea has also become an iconic symbol of Britain's love of tea and has contributed to the nation's public culture through many memorable adverts. To commemorate the anniversary, the company has created a tea table book in partnership with a cancer charity.
As a result of focus on growth and expansion, Teavana reached three important milestones in recent days in terms of bolstering operations in the US and abroad. The largest specialty tea retailer in the US opened its 300th company-owned store in North America. The outlet, which can be found in Solano in Northern California, is the brand's 247th store in the US alone. Teavana has also completed the rebranding of all 46 stores in Canada that belonged to Teaopia prior to its acquisition a few months ago. Finally, the premium tea chain unveiled its first store outside North America in Kuwait this week. The premises are located at The Avenues, one of the largest malls in the Middle East.
QTrade Herbs & Spices, the largest organic tea supplier in North America, has announced plans to acquire Kopius Teas. The move comes as QTrade tries to consolidate its wholesale services and accelerate its web presence. Kopius Teas worked closely with QTrade since 2008 to provide services for exclusive manufacturing, packaging and marketing of specialty teas for startup enterprises, with QTrade concentrating on larger food service and branded segments with formulation, blending and packaging contracts for high volume bulk teas. As the North American tea market continues to grow, QTrade decided to integrate Kopius and offer clients a unified wholesale services platform for established and aspiring businesses alike.
Unilever's business unit that includes tea has seen volumes decrease in three of the past four quarters, while its tea brands continue to suffer from a lack of innovation and fierce competition. Lipton, Unilever's biggest tea brand and the world's second-biggest beverage brand behind Coca-Cola, has surrendered its top spot in the US ready-to-drink tea market to Arizona last year, and has seen many competitors, such as Tropicana, V8 and Vitaminwater, introduce tea-based beverages. The US bagged and loose tea category, worth around $800 million in sales, has also been a challenge for Unilever, as it cedes market share to medium-range brands like Tazo and Twinings. Experts claim that Lipton brand has become too generic and appeals less to the new generation of tea drinkers that are focused more on premium brands, green tea and tisanes.
The Coca-Cola Company, the world's largest beverage manufacturer, is expanding its contract-farming portfolio to tea, coffee and other ingredients. Contract-farming consists of a company supplying growers with inputs such as seeds and chemicals, and buying back the crop at a pre-determined price. This strategy, used by Coca-Cola in many countries around the world, allows it to protect itself against price fluctuations, control agricultural practices, deliver higher yields and monitor quality specifications. As the company's sales related to tea continue to grow, it now plans to expand this system to tea, especially in Africa, where the availability of arable land is high.
Billy Corgan, the frontman of alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins, has opened a tea shop in Chicago. Located in Chicago's north shore suburbs, Madame ZuZu's is designed to serve as a social hub for the community, blending tea drinkers with music, photo galleries, art displays and speakers. Décor is inspired by the era of Parisian seductive burlesque, Cubism and hot Jazz. The teashop also boasts an upright piano from the 1930's that will enable local musicians and artists to share their talents with the community. Billy Corgan wants to the place to have no age boundaries and to attract everyone from young students to senior citizens.
One year after The Coca-Cola Company exercised its option to purchase the remaining stock of Honest Tea, the company's CEO claims the process was beneficial for the organic tea manufacturer. Increasing exposure and sales have enabled the company to make a positive impact on the beverage industry and change Coke from within. One example is the amount of organic ingredients that the company purchases, increasing from 790,000 pounds to 4 million in five years and thereby supporting more sustainable farming. Honest Tea also stood up to Coke by refusing to stay silent about the absence of high fructose corn syrup in its beverages. Despite these efforts, critics and longtime fans claim that Honest Tea is operating in the shadow of its parent company and has become too dependent on it.
In a bid to emulate the success of Starbucks, Argo Tea has started to expand internationally by opening its first tea store outside the US. The specialty tea chain that currently operates almost 30 stores across the nation opted for Beirut, Lebanon. According to the CEO, Beirut was chosen as a gateway to the Middle East and more stores are expected to pop up in the region. The company is also looking to expand to Asia and Europe in the future. Since opening the first store in Chicago back in 2003, Argo Tea has tried to combine loose tea retail with tea-to-go à la Starbucks. The first foreign store will stay true to this concept, with an offer of 40 tea blends and more than a dozen signature drinks. Prepackaged sandwiches, salads and snacks will also be available.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has partnered with Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia to offer wireless mobile phone charging in select cafes across the US. Nokia will introduce wireless charging plates for customers who wish to recharge their phones whilst sipping on tea or coffee. It is expected to target large metropolitan areas and airports. The technology is compatible the Qi wireless charging standard, championed by many operators and consumer electronics manufacturers. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, the world's largest privately held specialty coffee and tea retailer, is simultaneously launching a smartphone app featuring store locations and product information. The company currently operates more than 850 stores in 24 countries.
Specialty tea retailer Teavana has reported better-than-expected adjusted quarterly profit and has forecast higher full-year revenue. Excluding expenses related to mid-quarter acquisition of Teaopia, a chain of 46 specialty tea stores in Canada, the Atlanta, Georgia-based company earned 3 cents per share, above analysts' estimate of 2 cents per share. Quarterly net sales also rose by 38% to $43 million. Teavana anticipates full-year revenue to be in the range of $222-$231 million, well above average Wall Street expectations of $167 million. Despite these encouraging numbers, the company's stock has lost approximately half of its value since last year's IPO.
Anglo-Dutch food and beverage giant Unilever, owner of brands such as Lipton and PG Tips, may be on the verge of entering the tea retail sector. According to a job specification issued by the company, Unilever is looking for a global manager to launch a new concept of branded tea cafes to drive growth of its tea brands. It hopes to replicate the effect Starbucks and Nespresso had on the coffee industry over the last few years, changing how customers perceive the beverage and how they consume it at home and on the go. Unilever did not provide any further details on the project, but it is expected to be launched in selected countries this year and in many others in 2013. It should be fully developed by 2017.
Le Palais des Thés, a Paris-based specialty tea retailer, plans to set foot in the US tea retail market later on this year. First stores are expected to be located in Manhattan, on the Upper West Side and in SoHo, and should open in November. The company already has a show room in Manhattan, but is now looking to expand its retail operations in areas where it has a large customer base. The 300- and 700-square-foot shops are each expected to generate $1 million in annual sales, according to Le Palais des Thés. The French brand already operates around 30 retail locations worldwide, mostly in France and Belgium. Numerous other gourmet tea companies such as Argo Tea, Davids Tea and TeaGschwendner have previously chosen Manhattan to host their boutiques.
The Coca-Cola Company is gearing up for a massive marketing push to support Fuze ready-to-drink iced tea brand in early 2013. This comes as the company is set to lose its distribution deal for Nestea at the end of 2012. The beverage giant lags considerably in the ready-to-drink iced tea category valued at $5.5 billion and is currently ranked fourth, with sales of Fuze representing less than a 0.1% of the category. And while Coke is still silent on the budget and campaign specifics, it is expected to focus on building brand awareness and the investment is likely to eclipse the $8 million budget of 2011, which saw Fuze launch its first TV campaign. Ultimately Fuze hopes to rival AriZona iced tea. The privately held company controls 40% of the RTD tea category, yet relies on a tiny annual marketing budget estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
DavidsTea, the Canadian specialty tea retailer, is set to open three new retail stores in the Bay Area over the next couple of months. Having opened its first two US locations in New York in 2011, the DavidsTea plans an aggressive expansion in and around San Francisco. Two further retail spaces are under consideration and other locations are being actively scouted for. According to the company's founder, the aim is to spark a tea culture revolution among San Francisco's strong base of local shoppers engaged in their community. The stores will sport company's typical design elements, such as minimalist lines and spots of bright colors, and will offer seating and free wireless. DavidsTea stores feature 150 varieties of whole-leaf teas that can be purchased loose or brewed in-store. Since 2008, the Canadian tea retailer has grown from one to 70 stores in North America, and plans to open at least 30 more stores this year.
Complex Beverage, a Florida-based independent start-up company, has announced the launch of its new brand of beverages containing lettuce extracts. Lettuce Tea brand offers functional tea beverages brewed with green and black teas, and enhanced with lettuce extracts. According to the press release, lettuce extracts have been highlighted by prominent health professionals such as Dr. Oz and the American Cancer Research Center as having possible dietary health benefits. It also cites independent studies that suggest that Indole-3-Carbinol, a substance found in lettuce family of vegetables, may reinforce the metabolism and immune system strength, as well as help fight obesity.
A New York appeals court has ruled that the company behind AriZona Iced Tea can buy out its co-founder's stake. The ruling allows Domenick Vultaggio, the company's de facto manager, to buy out the 50% stake of co-founder John Ferolito. Furthermore, the ruling means that Vultaggio does not have to use his own money to buy out Ferolito's stake, a prospect that could have put a lot of pressure on Vultaggio. A previous agreement prevented Ferolito from selling his shares without Vultaggio's consent, despite reported interest from companies like Nestlé and Coca-Cola. According to Ferolito's lawyers, the company is worth from $4 billion to $6 billion, whereas a lawyer for Vultaggio cited a 2007 deal valuing the company at $432 million.
The share price of Peet's Coffee & Tea continues to edge higher, despite last week's announcement of a one billion dollar acquisition agreement with Germany's Joh. A. Benckiser, making it the most expensive US beverage deal. According to experts, this signals that traders do not exclude the possibility of counterbids from other large rivals. One company that may be particularly interested in such a move would be Starbucks. A successful rival bid would allow Starbucks to gain a foothold in the gourmet retail market and prevent Peet's from expanding its coffee shops. Analysts estimate that the coffee behemoth would be prepared to pay a roughly 10% premium above Peet's current stock price. Starbucks currently has a market value of $36 billion.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has opened its second spot in Huntington Beach, California. The company-owned café is positioned in the heart of downtown, close to the beach. Designed with a young, urban audience in mind, the latest location reflects the ubiquity of surfing culture in Huntington Beach and contains a three-dimensional art installation made up of surfboards, as well as other elements inspired by the coast. The 1800 square-foot café also benefits from a tall standing bar and a 300 square-foot patio. The oldest and largest privately-held specialty coffee and tea chain in the US has over 800 locations in 23 countries.
Peet's Coffee & Tea Inc has announced plans to be acquired by Joh. A. Benckiser for almost $1 billion. The specialty coffee and tea retailer has over 190 retail locations, mostly in California, and is valued at $73.50 per share, which represents a premium of nearly 29% over Friday's closing stock price. The move is expected to strengthen Peet's financial position as it competes against well-established tea and coffee retailers such as Starbucks and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. The company will be privately held and will continue to be run by its current management team. It will remain based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Joh. A. Benckiser is an investment vehicle for the Reimann family of Germany, which owns stakes in companies such as household products maker Reckitt Benckiser and fragrance and cosmetics company Coty Inc.
Honest Tea, an organic bottled iced tea manufacturer, has launched its first integrated advertising campaign. The ads aim to expand the consumer base by highlighting products' real, organic ingredients and transparent business practices under the tagline "Refreshingly Honest". The multi-platform campaign features Honest Tea's first TV commercials, which will be supported by digital video, social media, billboards and nearly three thousand grassroots events around the country. Since its acquisition by The Coca-Cola Company, Honest Tea has seen its distribution expand from 15,000 accounts in 2008 to over 100,000 accounts in 2012.
Austrian glassmaker Riedel has announced plans to develop a line of tea glasses together with Lalani & Co, a UK-based gourmet tea company. The partnership, still in its early stages, will see the creation of a range of tea glasses based on findings from a workshop that will seek to identify the optimal shape and size of glass for each variety. Riedel will also use several of its stemless wine glass designs for inspiration. Tea is often compared to wine among experts, because features like terroir and provenance are equally important. Similarly, tasters prize aroma and mouthfeel, as well as tannin and acid quality. Lalani & Co specializes in artisan and exclusive teas destined for prime restaurants and hotels, mostly in London.
Bigelow Tea may be looking to add a Chief Information Officer to its executive ranks, according to company CFO and Executive Vice President. The move would allow Bigelow to make greater strategic use of IT in order to improve technology efficiency and drive business growth. The CIO would also be responsible for overseeing company's website architecture, as well as business software systems that retailers and distributors use to place orders. At the moment, the company employs 340 people, yet only nine of them are devoted to IT matters and are having trouble coming to grips with various demands related to information technologies. Bigelow Tea was founded in 1945 and has manufacturing plants in Connecticut, Kentucky and Idaho. It sells 75 million boxes of tea per year through various retail outlets.
A New York appeals court has recently dismissed key legal claims in the $287 million dispute between the estranged co-founders of Arizona Iced Tea. The court dismissed accusations by company co-founder Domenick Vultaggio and Beverage Marketing USA Inc, Arizona's parent company, against company co-founder John Ferolito. The plaintiffs had accused Ferolito of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty. They are also involved in a separate case to determine how much the iced tea manufacturer is worth. The outcome will determine what price Ferolito's stake can be sold for. According to court filings, potential bidders have offered as much as $2 billion for the 50 percent stake.
Starbucks, the world's largest coffee-shop operator, has announced plans to open its first Tazo tea store in October. The tea-only Tazo store, which will be located near the company's headquarters in Seattle's University Village, will sell more than 80 varieties of loose-leaf tea and will allow Starbucks to test the waters of tea retailing. The store will also feature a personalized tea blending station, as well as pastries, baked goods and packaged chocolates. Starbucks, which currently operates more than 17,000 locations worldwide, bought Tazo in 1999 for $8.1 million. Tazo is now a $1.4 billion brand and Starbucks hopes that it can increase its presence in the $95bn global tea market. The company claims it does not have immediate plans to open further stores.
Honest Tea, the largest organic bottled tea company in the US, has announced its commitment to Fair Trade USA and the organization's new vision. Fair Trade USA's "Fair Trade for All" vision seeks to expand its reach and impact by broadening the kinds of growers who can be certified and maintaining rigorous standards for working conditions and community development projects. Honest Tea, which represents 15 percent of Fair Trade USA's total community development premiums in the tea category, has purchased over 300,000 lbs of Fair Trade Certified tea and returned over $100,000 to tea gardens in 2011. Fair Trade USA funds education, healthcare, worker safety and organic certification projects in tea farming communities around the world.
Teavana has launched a series of videos introducing Japanese matcha green tea. Matcha is a fine green tea powder made from leaves grown partially in the shade. The reduced exposure to sunlight makes tea leaves grow slower, which results in leaves that are larger and rich with chlorophyll. Once the leaves are ground, they can be used as an ingredient in a multitude of beverages. The short informational videos feature topics like history of matcha, as well as several step-by-step matcha recipes, such as matcha latte, iced matcha and matcha smoothie. According to Teavana, matcha may contain higher concentration of non-water soluble vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Unilever, the company behind PG Tips and Lipton tea brands, is launching an advertising campaign to promote tea bag recycling. It is estimated that tea bags are the largest form of unavoidable food waste in the UK and produce 370,000 tones of waste every year. The campaign will encourage people to ensure that tea bags, which are made mostly of organic material, are recycled after use with the rest of the household waste. The company is working with a couple of local councils and a government-backed waste agency on its latest initiative to inform and educate consumers, which is part of Unilever's ambitious goal of halving the landfill waste within eight years. The Brits drink over 60 billion of cups of tea per year.
Associated Brands, a supplier of private-label and co-manufactured packaged foods and beverage products, has completed a merger with North American Tea & Coffee, a Canada-based manufacturer of specialty teas. According to Associated Foods, the merger broadens and strengthens its private label business, giving access to the fast-growing market for specialty tea. Associated Brands hopes that North American Tea & Coffee, the largest independent specialty manufacturer in Canada, will drive future growth thanks to a younger demographic and their orientation to health and wellness. The new company will operate under the name Associated Brands and will integrate manufacturing facilities in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada.
Pure Leaf Iced Tea has announced a marketing campaign to highlight its freshly brewed taste. The brand, managed by Pepsi Lipton Tea Partnership, aims to communicate that its iced teas are freshly brewed from hand-selected leaves thanks to "For the Love of Leaves" campaign that will roll out in the coming weeks. It will feature a digital campaign, new radio spots and out-of-home advertising in select markets. Pure Leaf is also introducing a new environmentally-friendly PET packaging. The square-shaped bottles are lighter and allow for high pallet efficiency, thereby saving fuel during transport. Pure Leaf offers both sweetened and unsweetened varieties in 18.5oz single-serve bottles and a new 59oz multi-serve carafe.
Honest Tea is planning to air its first national ad campaign, a year after being bought out by the Coca-Cola Company. The acquisition gave Honest Tea a significant boost in distribution across the US and the company is looking to capitalize on that by increasing its brand awareness nationally. Since Coca-Cola's approach in 2008, Honest Tea has grown distribution from 15,000 outlets to more than 100,000. And while it commands a mere 0,5% of the ready-to-drink tea market, it is one of the fastest growing brands on the US market, with volumes up by 31% in 2011. According to the advertising agency in charge of the operation, the brand campaign will include digital, TV and outdoor media and will air this summer. Honest Tea also plans to rework its packaging over the next 18 months.
Famous British tea manufacturer Twinings has set its sights on conquering the tea market in India by means of teabags. Twinings hopes that evolving tastes and increasing sophistication among 1.2 billion potential consumers will prove lucrative in the long run. So far, the company concedes that sales have not been stellar. Despite securing a third of India's teabag market since introducing the brand in 1997, turnover from the country represents less than 1% of global sales. This is mainly due to the fact that teabags are not widely used in India, where tea is mostly brewed in loose form with milk and spices. The company plans to challenge this trend by highlighting its upscale positioning and improving the image of the teabag itself.
David's Tea, a specialty tea retailer from Canada, has received a $14 million minority investment led by Highland Consumer Fund. David's Tea, founded in 2008, has rapidly established itself as a major player in the Canadian gourmet tea market with 75 stores across the country and has also entered the US with two prime locations in New York City. Funding will be used to expand its retail operations in North America. The company will also establish a headquarters in the US as part of the deal. Highland Consumer Fund is a venture investment fund focused on consumer products, services and retail investment opportunities in growth-focused companies.
Atlanta-based Teavana, a gourmet tea retailer currently operating more than 200 stores, has purchased one of its main Canadian counterparts Teaopia. The company was bought for $26.9 million. Teaopia is a specialty tea retailer with substantial presence in high-end malls across Canada. It was founded in 2005 and currently runs 46 company-owned stores. Last year, net sales reached $17 million and 12 new stores opened their doors. From Teavana's perspective, the deal immediately establishes a strong foothold in top locations in many of the best malls in Canada, where per capita tea consumption is twice as high as in the US. It also keeps integration costs low thanks to similar store layouts and sales systems between the two companies. Teavana plans to operate 500 locations by 2015.
Honest Tea has announced a national recycling initiative that will be launched in New York City later on this month. "The Great Recycle" seeks to increase recycling rates across the US by asking participants to make recycling pledges online and then following through with them. The project will be launched in New York City by placing a 30-foot recycle bin in Times Square. Organizers hope to receive 45,000 plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers in ten hours, which will then be recycled. The event supports New York City's goal of doubling recycling rates in 5 years. In 2008, Honest Tea partnered with Bethesda Green and The Coca-Cola Company to install 33 recycling bins throughout the hometown of Bethesda, MD.
Kusmi, a gourmet tea manufacturer from France, has unveiled plans to expand rapidly beyond the local market thanks to the tea bar concept. The company anticipates revenues to reach €25 million in 2012 and hopes to become the first global luxury tea company. According to the CEO, Kusmi's sales should hit the €100 million mark in 2016, compared to just €1 million in 2005, buoyed by a changing image of tea as a fashionable beverage. The gourmet tea company currently has 21 outlets, mainly in France, and plans to open its first tea bar in Paris this year. Over the next two years, Kusmi expects to open around 30 new stores in France and beyond. It currently also has sales points in New York and Montreal.
Compassion Tea Company, a premium tea company that donates all after-tax profits to projects in Africa, has launched an online store in a bid to expand operations. The emerging tea company donates 100% of its after-tax profits to CareNow Foundation that provides pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and funding for staff and projects in rural Africa. The new website offers a selection of over 80 whole-leaf teas ranging from blacks, whites and oolongs to decaffeinated teas and herbals. The teas are sold as loose leaf or in pyramid bags and may also be purchased through membership programs.
Intercontinental Hotels Group is set to introduce a new luxury hotel brand aimed at the massive market in China. Hualuxe Hotels & Resorts hopes to build a presence in over 100 Chinese cities within 15 to 20 years. One of the most innovative aspects will be the absence of bars serving alcoholic beverages, as is the norm in the West. Instead, tea houses will reflect a holistically Chinese experience and cater to local audience much more accustomed to tea. Other features include multi-function suites, noodle bars, traditional Chinese gardens and many greeting hosts that offer VIP specific treatment.
Sara Lee, a global consumer-goods company based in Illinois, has announced that it will spin-off its coffee and tea business by June. This means that the company will be split into two divisions: an international coffee and tea business and a North American retail, foodservice and specialty meats business. The international coffee and tea business will be domiciled in the Netherlands and will move its headquarters from Utrecht to Amsterdam in the second half of 2012. The spin-off is part of Sara Lee’s plan to trim its portfolio in order to focus on its most profitable food and beverage businesses. The company has recently sold the majority of its US foodservice coffee and tea operations to The J.M. Smucker Company and purchased the specialty tea manufacturer Tea Forté.
Clipper Teas, a tea, coffee and chocolate manufacturer from the UK, has been snapped up by Wessanen, a Dutch food group. The tea company, founded in 1984, employs about 90 people and was first sold to a private equity firm for £30 million in 2007. Although details of the deal were not disclosed, it is believed Wessanen shelled out £50 million for Clipper Teas. According to the CEO of Wessanen UK, the company plans to keep production in the UK and export the brand across Europe in an effort to capitalize on increasing demand for natural foods. Clipper Teas was the first tea manufacturer to be awarded Fairtrade status in 1994 and its products are currently available in 50 countries. It recorded sales of £16 million in 2011.
Stephen Twining, the tenth-generation descendant of founder Thomas Twining, has revealed how the homonymous tea company goes about blending its teas. Twinings, part of Assiciated British Foods conglomerate, employs 9 tea tasters, who double as buyers and blenders. They are trained for a minimum of 5 years before assuming the responsibility of crafting over 200 blends sold in 115 countries. Tea tasters also adjust the famous blends to local preferences. For example, they decide how much tea from Assam goes into the best-selling English Breakfast Tea, a blend comprised of teas from 15 to 25 estates in Assam, Sri Lanka and Kenya. The company currently has 3 versions of English Breakfast (English, Indian and Rest of the World) and is working on a version for Russia.
Jamba Juice Company, a restaurant retailer with 750 locations in the US, has announced the purchase of Talbott Teas. The specialty tea retailer, founded in 2003 and based in Chicago, manufactures premium, yet accessible tea blends in luxurious and trendy packaging. They are sold through QVC, retail, online and HoReCa channels. According to Jamba Juice, the newly acquired premium tea company reflects its strategy for growth through purchases of lifestyle specialty brands that fit well with Jamba's positioning around health and wellness. Talbott Teas gained awareness among the business community recently by participating in a television program that connects up-and-coming entrepreneurs with investors. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Tata Global Beverages, the world's second-largest tea company, is looking to buy tea companies and brands in Russia and the US in order to strengthen its presence in two of the world's largest tea markets. After selling its stake in Glacéau, maker of VitaminWater, Tata has deep pockets worth approximately $200 million, according to company's vice-chairman. The goal is to become a global leader in branded healthy beverages through innovation, strategic acquisitions and organic growth. Russian and US markets are particularly appealing because of their size and growth potential. In 2010, the Russian market was worth $3.7 billion, whereas the US market recorded sales of $6.5 billion in 2011 and growth of 22% in the last 5 years. However, experts caution that Tata may lack the expertise and insight to take on rivals like Unilever, Danone and Nestlé.
The World Tea Expo will be held for the 10th time this year on June 1-3 in Las Vegas, NV. The trade show, which started a decade ago, has become the largest event for the tea industry, with more than 33,000 professionals attending the fair over the years. For this year's event, organizers have promised a "no repeat" policy for the many seminars, workshops and tastings that take place during the fair. The Expo will also benefit from an updated show floor, with over 200 exhibitors expected to showcase latest products and trends at the Las Vegas Convention Center. During the past 10 years, more than 35,000 flavors of tea have been tasted at the show and nearly 17 tons of leaves exhibited. Companies like Rishi Tea, Ito En and Harney & Sons have participated in each event since the inception.
Lion Heart Kombucha, a small manufacturer of kombucha tea, has opened its first storefront in Northwest Portland. The company was founded 3 years ago, when a couple started brewing fermented tea and teaching kombucha-brewing in their home. They moved the micro-brewery, which includes a number of stainless steel wine fermenters, to the current location about a year ago. The idea to open a storefront was initiated by large-scale orders. Lion Heart's store is relatively small, leaving just enough room for a cooler, a small table, a few shelves that hold kombucha home-brewing kits and two taps of flavored tea. The owners hope to expand the operation if things go well. A grand-opening celebration is planned for January 28.
F+W Media, a publishing company from Ohio, has purchased World Tea Media, organizers of largest tea trade show in the US. F+W Media is active in approximately 20 special-interest categories, such as antiques and collectibles, crafts, writing and horticulture. This is F+W Media's first attempt to enter the gourmet food and beverage segment, and the company hopes to expand its presence through organic growth and further acquisitions. World Tea Media organizes the World Tea Expo, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, the World Tea Expo East and the North American Tea Championship. The company also publishes World Tea News, an online industry resource. According to F+W Media, World Tea Media's offices will remain in Las Vegas and there will be no changes in executive management or staff.
Runa is a small tea company selling guayusa tea from South America that has a unique approach to business and funding. The company was founded in 2008 by two Brown University undergraduates who came in contact with the guayusa plant, which has more caffeine and twice as many antioxidants as green tea and was not sold in the US at the time. At the center of the company is a social program called "social premium fund" to finance local development projects for some 1000 farmers in South America. Runa relied on business plan competitions for start-up capital, but has diversified its funding sources ever since. The company, which saw sales of $277,000 in 2011, is now supported by the US and Latin American government grants ($500,000), angel investors ($1.6 million) and even the investment arm of socialist government of Ecuador ($500,000). It expects sales to hit the $1 million mark this year.
Two of the biggest names in the food and beverage sector, Coca-Cola and Nestlé, are throwing in the towel on their US Nestea joint venture at the end of this year. The 50-50 partnership was established in 2001 and focused on the US ready-to-drink market. Yet as time passed, both companies started to work on other brands in their portfolio and the partnership began to make less sense with declining sales. In 2000, the Nestea's volume in the US was 113 million cases, compared to 78 million cases in 2010. The latter is dwarfed by Lipton's 2010 sales of 247 million cases. Coca-Cola is expected to focus on Gold Peak and Honest Tea brands, whereas Nestlé will continue to build its Sweet Leaf Tea marque. The Nestea joint venture will remain in place in Europe and Canada.
Sara Lee Corp, a giant of the food and drink industry, has purchased Tea Forté, a gourmet tea manufacturer, for an undisclosed amount. The Massachusetts-based premium tea company was founded in 2003 by former Museum of Modern Art designer Peter Hewitt and posted revenues of $12 million in 2011. It supplies loose and bagged teas to hotels, restaurants and luxury retailers in 35 countries worldwide. The purchase will complement Sara Lee's existing portfolio of brands, such as Ball Park, DouweEgberts, Pickwick Teas and Senseo, which have helped the company generate nearly $9 billion in annual net sales. Sara Lee has announced plans to split its business into two separate entities, one focused on meats and the other on the coffee and tea market.
The Wenham Tea House, the oldest continuously operating tea house in the US, is looking for a new owner. According to the president of the Wenham Village Improvement Society, which owns the tea house, several tenants have shown serious interest. Yet timing has not been ideal and owners have not yet been able to seal the deal during the holiday period. The tea house was built in 1916 for local women to sell their baked and canned goods. Since then, it was also developed into a restaurant. Its current operator is leaving at the end of the month because the venue is not making a profit. The tea and restaurant business is a major source of funds for the not-for-profit society, which gives out scholarships to local students, and raises funds for various other activities in the area.
Rooibee Red Tea, a manufacturer of bottled rooibos tea based in Louisville, KY, has announced that it has issued $1 million in stock. The company hopes the capital will accelerate market expansion through its national broker Presence Marketing/Dynamic Presence, and its national warehouse distribution partners UNFI and KeHE. Rooibee Red Tea also added Dana Bowers to its board of directors. Bowers will help guide the company beyond state borders thanks to her direct experience of growing a rapidly expanding company. Red tea hails from the rooibos bush grown exclusively in South Africa. The caffeine-free tisane has gained rapid popularity in the West due to its high antioxidant content.
Dilmah, the world's largest purveyor of single origin Ceylon tea, is moving forward with plans to expand its leisure brand. Ceylon Tea Trails, Dilmah's most lucrative sector, will see the addition of a fifth $2.5 million bungalow and a $25 million beach resort in 2013. The company, which already owns several luxury bungalows in Sri Lanka's tea-growing districts, plans to add further 5 or 6 boutique resorts in the coming years. Dilmah is also looking to increase capacity of its tea packaging facility in Peliyagoda. It will invest approximately $20 million to expand production volume and support increased demand for Dilmah tea. The company hopes these measures will allow it to reach a turnover of $200 million.
Zealong Tea, New Zealand's only oolong tea grower and exporter, is looking at new ways to create awareness and promote the brand. Zealong Tea relies on tourism to spread the message across Asia-Pacific region. The manufacturer organizes tea walks, as well as tea ceremonies and tastings at its plantation in Waikato, New Zealand. Around 500 tourists visit the 50ha plantation each week. Also, the company is promoting itself abroad and has established ties with TeeGschwendner, Germany's biggest tea retailer, thanks to a sale of 200kg of its oolong tea. Zealong Tea has also penetrated Japanese and American markets, although both remain tough to break into. Owners plan to invest a further $10 million in the plantation over the next years to add a larger tea house and luxury accommodation.
Adagio Teas, a manufacturer of gourmet teas, has opened its third location in the Chicago area. A year after launching its brick-and-mortar tea business with two stores in Naperville and Skokie, the online retailer brings the concept of "playground for tea" to downtown Chicago. The store features over seventy kinds of tea and herbal tisanes from countries like China, India, South Africa, New Zealand, Egypt and Japan. A long bar table extends the length of the store, encouraging customers to experience the teas, interacting with Adagio’s experts and each other. According to the company, the goal was to create a setting where customers would feel comfortable having fun experimenting with tea and creating something uniquely theirs.
A Netherlands-based non-governmental group claims that Unilever has not stopped abuses of tea workers, despite committing to source its teas sustainably. Center for Research on Multinational Corporations alleges that Unilever, which manufactures the famous Lipton brand, has failed to stop abuses of workers on Unilever’s Kenyan estate, including sexual harassment and poor housing conditions. It also purchases tea from estates in India where workers are kept permanently on rolling short-term contracts, denying them health and pension benefits, and are often exposed to dangerous pesticides while working. Unilever calls the claims unsubstantiated and relies on independent audits of its tea plantations by the Rainforest Alliance, a US-based nonprofit environmental group.
Teavana, a gourmet tea retail chain, launched its Perfect Tea Touch App for Android phones and tablets. The app contains information on company's selection of teas and offers many useful tools for tea lovers. One feature is a musical tea timer that contains suggested brew settings for each type of tea, paired with a soundtrack that reflects the culture and harmony of the place where that tea is grown. Perfect Tea Touch App also has a custom tea blender, Teavana store locator and the functionality to save your favorite teas and tea blends. The app links seamlessly to Teavana's mobile site to shop for tea or tea blends.
Atlanta Bread, a Georgia-based bakery and sandwich shop chain, has chosen Mighty Leaf to supply its hot and iced teas. The company will offer six varieties of Mighty Leaf iced teas, as well as a dozen varieties of hot teas, each packaged in sustainable silken pouches. According to Atlanta Bread, Mighty Leaf teas were chosen first and foremost for their taste, but also thanks to the company's involvement in sustainable farming and production methods in tea-growing regions. Atlanta Bread has started a coffee service in its 110 locations earlier this year by partnering with Italian Lavazza coffee brand. The bakery café chain also serves a variety sandwiches, salads, soups, bagels, breads, pastries and desserts.
Steeped Tea is a Canadian direct sales tea company that relies on a unique business model to drive sales. The idea was born accidentally after a suggestion to organize a tea party led to adopt a business strategy based on independent partners throwing tea parties in people’s homes. Steeped Tea opted to sell their tea though independent consultants, mostly women looking for a part-time income, rather than by building up their own sales force. The company, with annual operating costs of $250,000, currently employs eight people and has 400 affiliated consultants who sell their tea across Canada. Each tea party yields an average of $500 in sales. The owners are now contemplating on expanding into the US market.
This week witnessed the launch of a new tea company that aims to cater to true tea connoisseurs. Rare Tea Republic sources all of its teas directly from artisan producers from single estates throughout Northern India and the Himalayan Mountain region. The initial product range is made up of nineteen varieties that include black, green, oolong and white teas from places like Darjeeling, Kangra, Sikkam, Assam, Bihar and Nepal. Rare Tea Republic teas range from $6 to $30 for 50 grams. The young company plans to update its offer regularly to deliver the freshest, most unique selection of single estate full-leaf teas to connoisseurs. The teas care only sold online or via the telephone.
Food and beverage giant Sara Lee Corp. sold a large part of its foodservice coffee and tea operations to J.M. Smucker Co. for $350 million. The acquisition will put J.M.Smucker, owner of Folger's and Dunkin' Donuts coffee brands, at the forefront of the US coffee market. The deal will also see both companies enter a long-term partnership to develop liquid coffee drinks and Sara Lee is set to pocket $50 million and growth-related royalties over the next 10 years. Sara Lee plans to focus on core food and beverage brands, but expects to wind down the rest of its North American beverage business. It looks to split into two companies in the first half of next year in order to separate North American and international brands.
The Republic of Tea has announced that it has donated over $1 million to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world. The company donates $1 for every item purchased from its Sip for the Cure tea collection. Sip for the Cure brand encompasses tea in tins, bulk bags, single-serve overwrapped tea bags, iced tea and mugs. The Republic of Tea makes all products in the Sip for the Cure collection available year-around, not just for a limited time during October, which is the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year, The Republic of Tea has added a new Strawberry Hibiscus flavor to the collection.
The Tea Spot, a specialty tea company, was recently awarded a $460,000 Small Business Innovation Research Grant by the US Department of Agriculture for market research on Brewlux, a patent pending tea filter. The grant is for marketing research in support of the commercialization of compostable bioplastic tea filters for making loose leaf tea to-go in mass-foodservice. Brewlux is made of a compostable resin made of US corn. Research will be headed by company employees and a team from the Marketing Department at the University of Colorado. A prototype of this product was awarded 'Best Innovation' at the 2010 World Tea Expo in Las Vegas.
Two heavyweights of the ready-to-drink iced tea category are locked in a marketing war over the number one spot in the US market. According to first-half figures, AriZona and Lipton are neck and neck in sales with 39% and 34.8% of market share respectively. Year-to-date sales of Arizona brands are $595 million, compared to $559 million for Lipton brands. These numbers are particularly astounding, given that AriZona is an independent company and has built its reputation without the help of above-the-line marketing, whereas Lipton is investing heavily in marketing for its Lipton Brisk, Lipton Iced Tea and Lipton Pure leaf brands. AriZona relies on an aggressive pricing strategy and bold flavors, and plans to combat Lipton with new partnerships and event sponsorships.
Peet's Coffee & Tea, one of the largest coffee and tea retail chains in the US, is opening its ninth store in Berkeley, CA. This is about 45 years after the company's first store was launched by its founder Alfred Peet. Peet's store will replace a tea shop, A'Cuppa Tea, which is moving down two blocks. According to Peet's, the company has been trying to open up shop in the neighborhood for ten years. When the building landlord informed Peet's that the lot was vacant, they took the opportunity to move in right away. The store, located at 3200 College Ave., will replicate the chain's nationwide look and feel.
A specialty tea company is opening its flagship store together with a real estate agency in Manhattan. Tavalon will open its tea bar in October right next to the offices of Blu Realty Group. Businesses will be separated by a glass wall, but customers of both will be able to interact and enjoy tea while browsing through real estate offers. According to Tavalon, the Riverside Boulevard, where the company will open the tea store, has an untapped client base and is short on basic amenities like coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores. The combination real estate office and tea cafe is to be called Blu Cafe by Tavalon. Tavalon Tea had a retail store in Union Square, in lower Manhattan, until 2009.
Teavana Holdings, the largest chain of specialty tea stores in the US, has reported second quarter sales of $31.3 million, up 36%. Net profit rose 72% to $1 million during the same period. Teavana reiterated strong growth expectations and anticipates full year sales to amount to approximately $160 million versus $90 million last year. Annual profits are expected to hit $16 million. The company has been opening new stores and growing its e-commerce business, as well as looking to expand into new markets. Teavana recently signed a 10 year franchise deal to develop stores in the Middle East, in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. The Atlanta, Georgia-based retailer also aims to enter the Canadian market in the near future.
Zealong, New Zealand's only premium oolong tea grower, hopes to capitalize on recent health and radiation scares from Japan and elsewhere. The Taiwanese family-owned company, which has invested $10 million in its plantation and tourist and export venture, cultivates tea that is free of chemical sprays, fertilizers and additives. It claims to grow the purest oolong tea in the world. Until now, Zealong has exported its crop mainly to Taiwan, where oolong tea is prized as a corporate gift and for socializing. But the company is now attracting increasing interest from buyers from Germany, Japan and other countries due to recent radiation fears. There are also plans to go on a marketing offensive in New Zealand and stimulate domestic demand. Owners plan to invest at least another $10 million in the venture over the next few years, despite not yet making a profit since launching early last year.
Hain Celestial, owner of Celestial Seasonings brand, has unveiled the first line of refrigerated energy shot drinks. Celestial Seasonings Kombucha Energy Shots are made with raw kombucha, a type of fermented tea. They combine two hot trends in the ready-to-drink beverage category: kombucha and natural energy drinks. The 2oz (59ml) bottles will be available in natural retailers in October. Hain Celestial also revealed that new products added more than $30m in sales in 2011 and that next year the company expects to match or exceed these numbers. According to the CEO, Hain Celestial is looking at acquisitions to drive growth and hopes that international operations will contribute more to the bottom line in the future. Hain Celestial saw sales rise by 23% to $1.13bn in the year ending on June 30, with net income jumping 92% to $55m.
Ten Fu Tea, China's largest tea producer in terms of sales, is planning to list its shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The initial public offering is expected to raise approximately $300 million. Ten Fu Tea is looking to use the funding for further domestic expansion. It currently operates more than 1'100 chain stores in mainland China, up from 543 in early 2006. The company is involved in tea packaging, sales, research and development, tea culture and education and traveling. According to industry experts, Ten Fu Tea has made breakthroughs in terms of profitability and cross-regional development. Both are difficult for Chinese tea firms to achieve, because the majority of them are small- and medium-sized businesses. Insiders say that Chinese tea companies trail their international counterparts and need to adopt modern management and business models in order to compete.
Adagio Teas, a gourmet tea manufacturer, has announced the location of its third retail outlet. Adagio's Tea Experience Retail Store will be located in downtown Chicago, IL and will complete the original intent of piloting stores in three strategic locations: downtown, suburban street-level and high-end suburban mall. The retail space measures approximately 1000 square feet and is in a land-marked building a couple of blocks away from Michigan Avenue. Opening is planned for October 2011. The two previous stores in Naperville, IL and Old Orchard Mall in Skokie, IL opened their doors in late 2010. Adagio's further expansion in gourmet tea retailing will be guided by the results from these three stores.
Details are emerging about legal disputes that are brewing between the owners of AriZona Beverage Co. The business partnership between John Ferolito and Domenick Vultaggio has turned sour a while ago and the two owners are currently involved in a legal feud. In the past, they have clashed over management styles. The key issue now is the control of the company and the attempted sale of shares to Tata Global Beverages, the world's second-largest tea manufacturer and distributor. AriZona claims a third of the US ready-to-drink tea market and tops the likes of Lipton, Nestea and Snapple. According to court documents, it's annual revenue is nearly $1 billion and it employs approximately 1000 people.
A wage hike demanded by workers in the tea growing region of Dooars in India is reportedly threatening the profitability of its two biggest companies. Tea workers want a raise of approximately 50% in response to a similar goal achieved by fellow workers in Darjeeling. Two of India's biggest tea companies, Goodricke Group Ltd and Duncans Industries Ltd, claim the pay rise, backed by key political parties and labor unions, is likely to plunge them into losses. Between them they produce about 34 million kilograms of tea a year and do not have too many gardens in other regions. Dooars is home to about 3100 tea plantations. It produces around 145 million kg of tea a year and employs at least 171'000 people on a daily basis.
The stock price of Teavana, the largest premium tea retail chain in the US, has shot up on its first day of trading. Shares of Teavana, priced at $17, opened more than 60% higher at $28.95 on the New York Stock Exchange last Thursday. Experts say that investors are attracted to companies like Teavana, because they are growing incredibly fast. The Atlanta-based retailer has tripled the number of stores in the last 5 years. The company now owns 161 stores in 35 states and has more than a dozen franchise outlets in Mexico. According to a recent filing, Teavana plans to have "at least 500 stores" in the US. It has recorded profits of $12 million on sales of $124.7 million last year, with the average transaction amounting to $36.
Harris Tea is looking for new ways to offset the company's carbon footprint and will rely on solar power to reduce its impact on the environment. The tea company has announced that a solar panel system will power its New Jersey facility. The system will generate an estimated 600,000 kilowatt hours annually, which represents approximately 60% of the site's annual power needs. This is equal to a 300 million ton reduction in carbon emissions per year, or the combustion of 137'000 liters of petrol. In the future, Harris Tea aims for zero land fill. It plans to introduce self-sealing cartons eliminating plastic overwraps and install motion sensors for all warehouse lighting. Harris Tea also participates in the Carbon Disclosure Project.
A tea company from Denver, CO., is succeeding in combining business and social responsibility. Teatulia has its sights on lifting a village out of poverty on the other side of the globe, while making a profit at home. The company teamed up with a tea garden in the Tetulia region in Bangladesh to source its organic tea. Teatulia also oversees initiatives that improve quality of life for 1200 tea garden employees and the surrounding community. For example, it encourages education programs and loans to farmers. The company started selling its products in a single Whole Foods grocery store in 2009 and is now present in 115 Whole Foods locations across the US. The start-up hopes to become profitable next year.
According to several inside sources, food behemoth Nestle SA and tea giant Tata Global Beverages may be looking to acquire AriZona Beverage Co. Both companies held private talks with AriZona management recently, although the deal does not seem to be imminent. Nestle owns Nestea and Sweet Leaf Tea brands in the US, whereas Tata operates under Tetley Tea and several other marques. Founded in 1971, AriZona makes a wide variety of tea, juice and other types of beverages. It is currently one of the biggest brands in the US and is on par with Lipton Iced Tea, owned by Unilever-Pepsico, with about a third of the iced tea market. Coca-Cola Co, which lags rivals in the US tea market, was not mentioned by any sources as having a recent interest, according to Beverage Digest. Sources cite an estimated valuation for AriZona raging from $3bn to $4.25bn.
DavidsTea is a young and dynamic tea retailer that is transforming the landscape of Canadian tea market. Founded in 2008, it aims to reinvent the tea shopping experience, moving it from a British or Asian to a North American and modern decor. It offers more than 120 tea varieties in stores with a bright, streamlined Scandinavian aesthetic. Last year, DavidsTea went from 8 retail locations to 40, and it plans to open 20 more this year. Although the retail chain does not reveal its sales figures, it claims that each store is profitable and the business as a whole is extremely profitable. This comes as no surprise, because tea has been one of the fastest-growing menu items in Canada for the past 6 years. Out-of-home consumption has grown from 500 to 584 million servings since 2007. A recent Agriculture Canada food-trends study predicted tea consumption will jump 40% by 2020.
According to the brand ambassador of Twinings, a British tea manufacturer, the company is considering entering the tea retail market in the UK. Twinings plans to open a store with a contemporary twist in central London. More retail outlets would then follow. However, the company admits that it is still unsure how to tackle this project. It is especially cautious about the idea of selling cups of tea that can be taken away, akin to coffee. But an area for sampling would definitely be available, because any outlets would be designed to fit into the company's strategy, which is aimed at encouraging people to broaden their tastes. Twinings, owned by Associated British Foods, currently stocks about 250 varieties of tea.
Magwa Tea plantation in South Africa, the largest tea garden in the southern hemisphere, is facing an uncertain future after worker unrest has led to looting and abandonment. The 1803 hectare plantation provided jobs and career training for 1200 permanent and 2300 seasonal workers. In February, the plantation was shut down after workers went on a rampage due to a refusal to increase wages by 104%. Magwa Tea workers earn one of the highest salaries in the tea industry, five times more than their counterparts in the Republic of Malawi. Tea bushes have not been pruned since February and this year's crop is lost. A special task force has been appointed by the local governement to find a solution to the crisis and get one of the most successful tea gardens back on track.
Argo Tea, a chain of tea cafés founded in Chicago, has opened its fifth New York City location in just over a year. The outlet, located in the Chelsea district, will replicate the "Argo experience" of all natural tea-based signature drinks, over 30 varieties of loose leaf teas, FairTrade organic coffee, fresh-baked pastries, specialty foods, and a selection of teaware and accessories. According to Argo Tea, the company relies on natural high quality products, earth-friendly and sustainable business practices, and industry-leading innovations. It has further 15 locations in the Chicago area and one in St. Louis. The retailer employs over 250 people.
Cooper Tea Co. and Third Street Chai, makers of concentrated beverages, have agreed to merge operations. Third Street sells chai and lemonade concentrates under Third Street and Pixie Mate brands. Cooper Teas specializes in iced tea concentrates. The Boulder County-based companies hope to leverage their manufacturing capabilities and expand distribution. Both operate on different markets: Cooper Tea distributes primarily to the food service and convenience store channel, whereas Third Street is established in the retail sector. The companies will operate independently under DrinkWorks umbrella brand. Third Street has 22 employees and Cooper Tea has 18. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
Although Seattle is usually associated with coffee rather than tea, a tea and spice shop in the Pike Place Market is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The outlet opened its doors in 1911 and remained in the same premises for the entire period. MarketSpice offers more than 100 different teas and more than 200 spices, along with coffee, candles and accessories. Apart from in-store sales, the teas are shipped across the US and internationally, as well as sold in certain retail locations. Not much is known about MarketSpice's early history, because most of the store's records were kept in a storage area that was flooded about 10 years ago.
After being fully acquired by Nestlé last week, Sweet Leaf Tea management claims that the move will mark a new era for the beverage company. The deal will grant Sweet Leaf access to Nestlé’s distribution channels and a powerful, 700 people strong sales and marketing force. The company claims there will be no immediate changes in staffing, but may consider consolidating operations as synergies between Nestlé's many brands arise. According to the company's founder, despite high commodity prices, the deal will ensure no retail price increases due to Nestlé's huge purchasing power. Nestlé hopes to double Sweet Leaf's combined turnover of $53 million in one to two years.
Nestlé Waters North America, Inc., a subsidiary of the food giant Nestlé, has signed an agreement to acquire the Austin-based Sweet Leaf Tea Company, which owns Sweet Leaf and Tradewinds ready-to-drink iced tea brands. Its turnover is reported to total more than $53 million in 2010. Sweet Leaf Tea was founded in 1998 and sells naturally sweetened organic iced teas. Tradewinds, founded in 1993, specializes in brewed iced teas and tropical fruit juice drinks. This acquisition, which remains subject to applicable regulatory approval, will bolster Nestlé's beverage portfolio of bottled water to include high-quality iced teas, lemonades and juice drinks. Sales for Nestlé Waters North America topped $4 billion in 2010.
Teavana Holdings, Inc., a specialty tea retailer, has filled an initial public offering for up to $100 million last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Founded in 1997, the company now owns 146 stores in 34 states and 15 franchise stores, primarily in Mexico. Its net sales grew 38% in 2010, while comparable-store sales increased 8.7% compared to the same period in 2009. Net income was $12 million in fiscal 2010, up 126% from 2009. According to Teavana, its average transaction size is $35 and operating margins stand at 19%. The company plans to have 500 stores in the US by 2015 and expects to open 50 outlets in 2011. The share size and price, as well as the IPO date are yet to be announced.
Rishi Tea, a manufacturer of organic gourmet teas, has been sent a warning letter from the FDA for promoting certain teas as drugs. According to the agency, Rishi Tea website claims establish certain products as drugs, because they are described as intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease. The company was also notified that particular teas may not be marketed without prior approval from the FDA. Furthermore, Rishi Tea was warned about nutrient content claims and the use of the term "antioxidant", which did not meet FDA guidelines. The agency urges the company to review its website, product labels, and other labeling and promotional materials to ensure claims fall in line with current regulations.
Authentic Teas, a boutique tea company based in Ontario, Canada, has launched a range of herbal teas sourced from Armenia. The teas are grown exclusively in the wild, without chemicals. The plants are then harvested and blended by hand using traditional methods, some of which were found in ancient Armenian manuscripts. The manufacturing takes place in indigenous village areas, where most of the economic benefits are returned to local artisans. The range has 6 varieties with blends of thyme, linden flowers, wild oregano and mint. A 1.75oz / 50g bag retails for approximately $11.
Ajiri Tea, a small tea company with a social mission of creating employment in Kenya, has been awarded the best black tea award in the 2011 North American Tea Championship. The tea, which competed against nearly 200 teas in 18 different categories, won for best brewed color, aroma, flavor and harmony. Ajiri Tea sells Kenyan tea to provide jobs for Kenyan women and pay school fees for orphans in western Kenya through the nonprofit Ajiri Foundation. The product packaging is handcrafted by local women from dried banana leaves. A pack of loose tea retails for $10, whereas 16 tea bags cost $9. Ajiri Tea is sold in nearly 200 outlets in the US. Other notable winners from the 2011 North American Tea Championship include Teagschwendner and Rishi Tea.
Starbucks has revealed plans to offer single-serve brewing machines to rival the popular Keurig system. Keurig, the most popular brand, currently holds more than 80 percent of the market share. The brewing machines are destined to make Starbucks and Seattle's Best coffee, and Tazo tea infusions. This comes on the heels of a previous agreement between the coffee giant and Green Mountain Coffee, maker of single-cups for the Keurig system, to sell Starbucks coffee and Tazo tea pods for those machines. On a separate note, Starbucks has signed a deal to supply its products to over 500'000 luxury hotel rooms across the US.
A Japanese tea company based in the UK has vowed to donate a percentage of its profits to help with relief efforts in Japan. Vitalife Matcha, a tea company that specializes in a Japanese green tea called matcha, will donate 25% of its profits over the next 4 months to the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. According to the company, the farms where it sources its tea have not been affected, yet the response to the initiative has been tremendous. Global Giving, the organization that Vitalife is using to donate their profits, have already helped to raise over £200,000 for the cause. Thousands of people have died in the disaster and thousands more are reported missing.
A former dentist is launching a ready-to-drink iced tea that can help prevent tooth decay. Tropical Breeze Beverages combines naturally caffeine-free rooibos tea with all-natural flavoring and xylitol, a key ingredient that prevents tooth decay. Xylitol fights the cause of tooth decay by significantly reducing bacteria that is responsible for increased acids in the mouth. Xylitol is naturally present in some fibrous fruits and vegetables, corncobs and stalks. The range, sold under Banks's Sun Tea brand, is available in banana, pomegranate, coconut and apple spice flavors. According to the manufacturer, there are no additives, preservatives or colorants in the tea.
Coca-Cola has finally bought out Honest Tea for an undisclosed amount, after having acquired a 40% stake in the organic beverage company in 2008. The move is seen as an opportunity for Coke to expand its presence in the ready-to-drink tea market, where it lags its main competitor PepsiCo. Since the beverage giant bought into the company three years ago, the number of retail outlets stocking Honest Tea has multiplied by five and now stands at 75'000. Its sales have tripled in the same period to reach $72 million. Despite the expansion, the company plans to continue to rely on "guerrilla" marketing tactics, which have been proven effective in the past. This strategy involves field marketing, innovative demos, genuine media coverage and a strong social media presence. Honest Tea will continue to operate as a separate business within Coke's Venturing and Emerging Brands unit.
One of the first American herbal tea companies, Good Earth Tea, is closing its main production unit in Santa Cruz, CA. The company, founded in 1972, is relocating to New Jersey and laying off 47 employees, according to the plant manager. Good Earth Tea was purchased in 2005 by a subsidiary of Tata Global Beverages, the world's second largest tea manufacturer. At the time of purchase, the buyer was committed to stay, citing the moderate climate of Santa Cruz as an excellent place to blend and pack tea. Six years on, only one employee decided to relocate.
TeaGschwendner, the largest gourmet tea retailer in the world, has decided to ditch its brick and mortar business in the US. The Germany-based company, with 145 outlets in nine countries on four continents, has 4 stores in the US - two in New York City and two in Illinois. The company was hoping to expand its reach by means of franchise stores. However, there appears to be insufficient interest in this business model from American entrepreneurs. Approximately 60 stores were planned to open until 2012. The US arm of TeaGschwendner will now concentrate solely on its online business.
Retraction and Apology: TeaGschwendner not leaving US tea retail market
Adagio Teas apologizes to TeaGschwendner and the tea community at large for recently publishing a story inaccurately indicating that TeaGschwendner is pulling out of the US tea retail market. In fact, it has come to our attention that TeaGschwendner is not pulling out of the US tea retail market and it continues to grow its brick and mortar business in the US.
The Federal Trade Commission has announced that Coca-Cola's deal to purchase Honest Tea would meet antitrust approval. The beverage giant bought a 40% stake in the bottled tea and juice company for $43 million in 2008, with an option to buy the remaining share this year. This allowed Honest Tea to benefit from Coke's nationwide distribution network. According to sources close to the matter, discussions are now under way, although no deal has been reached so far. This deal was the first major acquisition by Coke's Venturing and Emerging Brands unit, which oversees several other similar projects. Seth Goldman, the founder of Honest Tea, is expected to stay at the company after the purchase is completed.
Once Upon a Tea Cup, a tea store in London, Canada, is starting a luxury line of gourmet teas called LovaTea. The range, packaged in sleek steel tins, currently features 26 varieties including many flavored black, herbal and rooibos varieties and is expected to expand to 67. The company is also seeking support from celebrities to promote new varieties of tea in return for proceeds being directed to the charity of their choice. Their first charitable tea is in support of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada. LovaTea is available in select retail outlets in the US and Canada. Retail price for a 50 gram tin is between $6 and $8.
Golden Temple, a tea and cereal manufacturer founded by a Sikh community in 1960s, has found itself in a legal battle over the use of the word "Yogi", which stems from the Sikh spiritual leader Yogi Bhajan. After selling its cereal business to Hearthside Food Solutions, Golden Temple has decided to focus exclusively on Yogi Tea brand, which has 50 employees in Oregon and about 100 employees in Europe. However, the widow of Yogi Bhajan is suing Golden Temple over the use of Yogi trademark. The widow considers that as a successor to her husband’s estate, she controls the trademarks used by or connected with her husband, while Golden Temple says that it owns the rights to Yogi trademarks. If she prevails, she plans to license the brand to another tea manufacturer.
The Tea Spot has donated over $20'000 in loose leaf tea and tea accessories in November, after pledging to give 10% of every sale as in-kind donation to cancer wellness and community programs. This marks their largest monthly in-kind contribution from the company since starting the initiative a year ago. The Tea Spot, a Boulder-based loose leaf tea and teaware producer, seeks to support cancer survivors and facilitate healthy habits to decrease cancer risks. The company was founded in 2004 by Maria Uspenski, a cancer survivor.
Adagio Teas is continuing its expansion into the retail market with a second store opening in Skokie, IL. The tea shop, located in the Old Orchard Mall, features a wide variety of gourmet tea varieties and creative tea accessories. The Old Orchard Mall underwent a $50 million in 2007 and is the third largest mall in Illinois. According to the company, the store is designed as a playground for tea, where customers are encouraged to create custom tea blends, brew samples of any tea available, and test tea accessories on the Cupping Table. Adagio's first store opened in Naperville, IL in October. Further locations across the US are planned for 2011.
Snapple, owned by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, faces lawsuits for false and misleading claims about the health benefits of its Acai Mixed Berry Red Tea beverage. Advertising for the product claims it is caffeine-free, with antioxidants and Vitamin C to support a healthy immune system. However, the attorney who filed the lawsuits in California and Florida believes the company did not have scientific studies supporting such claims. The beverage line was discontinued earlier this year due to low sales, but the company continues selling the remaining supplies. Since 2007, there were at least 3 earlier cases where Dr Pepper Snapple Group was sued in relation to health claims made about its Snapple product.
Harney & Sons, a tea manufacturer from Salisbury, CT, is opening its flagship tea store in Soho, New York City. The tea shop houses over 250 varieties of tea from around the world and features a large tasting bar. Teas are brewed and served by master brewers using water calibrated to the exact degree necessary for each type of tea. The store also offers a range of tea kettles and other accessories. A kitchen menu will be available in the future to compliment the tea selection.
New Leaf Brands, manufacturer of sweetened tea and fruit beverages, has signed an endorsement agreement with football pro Steve Smith. The wide receiver for the New York Giants, who also becomes a New Leaf shareholder, is company's first celebrity endorsement. Smith, a life-long iced tea fan, was introduced to New Leaf at a promotional signing appearance in 2009, where a variety of beverages were being sampled. According to the company, he was chosen for his notable performance on the field and his involvement in many charitable organizations.
Honest Tea announced its commitment to have the entire range of bottled teas Fair Trade certified by 2011. Over the past three years, Honest Tea expanded its Fair Trade offerings from seven to 19 varieties and with this new initiative, all 28 of its teas will become Fair Trade certified by early 2011. A Fair Trade seal requires tea gardens to comply with workplace standards and to ensure safety, equality and fairness for all workers. This month Honest Tea is also publishing its first annual mission report that details its social and environmental initiatives related to its products, packaging, employees and partners.
PG Tips, owned by Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever, has announced that its loose leaf and tea bag ranges sold in the UK are fully certified by the Rainforest Alliance. This certification ensures that crops are grown using sustainable farming methods by workers who earn a decent living and have good working conditions. According to PG Tips, the company has improved standards of living for 75'000 workers by providing free housing, medical care and schools. Furthermore, the company has planted over 870'000 trees since 2000 and uses energy from renewable sources.
Two Leaves and a Bud Co. has overhauled its website to share stories and knowledge acquired through journeys abroad. The online store contains photographs taken during trips to tea gardens, giving shoppers a glimpse of where their tea is produced. The gourmet tea manufacturer from Colorado is also looking to lessen the intimidation factor that comes with tea - a comprehensive knowledge center is aimed to provide educational information on any tea-related topic. Other new site features include a reward points program for frequent cuppers, along with a referral program, integration with Facebook’s "like" button, and a running feed for Twitter, Facebook, tea reviews and the company’s blog.
Adagio Teas, the leading online retailer of gourmet tea, has opened its first retail outlet in Naperville, IL. The flagship retail store provides an ideal environment for introducing new customers to the full range of Adagio's gourmet teas and engaging existing customers in a more personal and sensory-rich setting. The store carries more than 200 tea varieties and many imaginative tea accessories. Adagio's retail operations are headed by Charles Cain, who previously managed the US subsidiary of TeaGschwendner, the world’s largest tea retailer. A second store is currently being finalized in Skokie, IL. with more outlets planned for 2011.
India's Tata Global Beverages, owner of Tetley Tea, is attempting to sell a minority stake in the tea company in order to fund an international acquisition spree. The parent company is in talks with several private equity firms, including Advent International and Blackstone, but the transaction is not expected to be completed anytime soon. Tata Global Beverages is a major international player, with large market shares in countries such as Australia, Britain, Poland and the US. It has recently announced plans to acquire companies in eastern Europe and the US which would expand its share of the tea market as well as diversify its portfolio of products.
Guayaki, a yerba mate manufacturer from California, has established a novel supply chain aimed at improving the sustainability and livelihood of its suppliers. The 14-year old company, currently growing at 30% a year, is creating sustainable, fair trade agricultural enterprises in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. With a turnover of $12 million, Guayaki has set its sight on creating 1000 jobs and restoring 200'000 acres of rainforest by 2020. To achieve this ambitious goal, it will have to become ten times bigger than it is today, increasing revenue by 25% annually for the next decade. It has 28 different varieties of dry and liquid products on the market. Guayaki's business model is being featured at this week's Clinton Global Initiative.
Tetley Tea, part of Tata Global Beverages, has unveiled its new packaging design destined for more than 70 countries. The modernized graphics were designed to evoke the warm feelings and stirring actions associated with tea drinking, to further draw consumers in to the Tetley experience at the point of purchase. The packs will retain the signature blue color of the brand. Tetley Tea packaging introduction will begin in Australia and the UK, and will hit US store shelves starting in September. All Tetley branded tea, including flavored and decaffeinated varieties, are planned to be part of the Rainforest Alliance certification program by 2016.
Starbucks, the world's largest coffeehouse chain, has requested a license from the Tea Board of India to import and sell Darjeeling tea. This move indicates that the company may be planning to serve tea from the Darjeeling region, dubbed the Champagne of tea, in its 17'000 outlets across 49 countries. According to local regulations, a Certification of Trade Mark license is necessary for all producers, manufacturers, packagers, blenders, exporters, and traders who wish to sell tea labeled as Darjeeling tea. Starbucks, which bought Tazo Tea for $8.1 million in 1999, subsequently teamed up with McLeod Russel, Apeejay Tea, Warren Tea and Chamong Tee Exports to source other Indian teas for the international market.
East India Company, the world's first multinational company founded more than 400 years ago, has been resurrected as a luxury brand. The company, which lay dormant for more than a century, started selling gourmet tea and other specialty products. The "tea library" at its flagship store in London features more than 100 different types of brew, including green, black, herbal, and flavored teas. The East India Co. began as a trading monopoly under Queen Elizabeth I in 1600 to ship commodities to the West from India and China. It controlled the trade in indigo dye, cotton, silk, opium and tea. The owner has so far invested $20 million in the project and estimates that another $100 million will be needed to increase the number of retail outlets and expand into other areas of trade.
New Mexico Tea Co., a bulk tea supplier, has turned to its customers to secure a loan through microfinancing. Its co-owner decided to appeal to their customers when his bank turned him down for a line of credit recently. He sent an email to the 3'800 people on his newsletter list with the aim to raise $5'000. To his surprise, he had raised $10'000 within the first 48 hours. The capital was made up of $4'500 in “microloans” and $5'500 in gift cards. The extra funds will allow the company to pay in advance for tea from vendors and to stock more tea, teapots, and other accessories.
Kombucha manufacturer Vibranz is the first company to have its organic fermented tea back on the shelves of Whole Foods. The grocer pulled the probiotic products from its stores over worries they contained too much alcohol. Vibranz has created a new formula that reduces alcohol to fall within the limits of 0.5% alcohol by volume. Prior to last month's recall, kombucha tea was experiencing unprecedented popularity among organic beverage enthusiasts. According to market research, sales of kombucha and other "functional" juices in the US topped $295 million last year, up 25 percent over a two-year period. Vibranz Kombucha Teas retail between $4.69 and $3.89 and are available in eight flavors including Original, Blood Orange and Raspberry.
Honest Tea is undertaking a novel social experiment to test the honesty of people living in big cities across the US. The guerrilla marketing coup consists of an unmanned pop-up store offering iced tea in return for 1 dollar placed in a glass box, with cameras recording how people behave. The experiment was carried out some of the biggest cities in the US such as New York City, Washington, DC, Boston and Chicago to test the honesty of their respective inhabitants. It turns out that Boston came first in the ranking, with 93% of people paying for their drink, followed by New York and Atlanta at 89%. Chicago fared the worst, attracting only 78% of paying customers. The money collected during this experiment will go to charity.
Following a recent removal of raw kombucha from shelves of several grocery chains such as Whole Foods due to elevated levels of alcohol, manufacturers of pasteurized kombucha are expected to cash in. Kombucha Wonder Drink, a company that was amongst the first to launch the category in the US almost a decade ago, is one of the few brands to offer a pasteurized version of the beverage, which ensures that it is consistently safe, stable and under the 0.5 percent alcohol limit set by the US authorities. Kombucha Wonder Drink is now likely to become the one of the fastest growing brands in the $300 million kombucha category as its products remain on shelves nationwide. On a separate note, the US authorities raised the possibility of treating the beverage like an alcoholic drink in terms of regulation and taxes.
Charleston Tea Plantation, the only tea plantation in the US, has introduced a range of bottled ready-to-drink iced teas. American Classic Tea comes after more than a decade without bottled drinks from the company. Three flavors are available: original(made with cane sugar), sweet with lemon and sweet green tea. The plantation, located in South Carolina, also announced a 15% rise of visitors and plans to offer a greenhouse stop on its trolley ride, where people can see in closer detail how tea grows. Its grounds include 127 acres of tea plants, a working tea factory and a gift shoppe. Charleston Tea Plantation is owned by Bigelow Teas since 2003.
Inc. Magazine and Winning Workplaces, a non-profit organization committed to helping small and mid-sized businesses create high-performance workplaces, have singled out Honest Tea in their 40 Top Small Company Workplaces of 2010. The ready-to-drink tea manufacturer was honored for its telecommuting policies (60% of employees work from home and the rest are allowed to telecommute when the need arises) and for its health and wellness programs, which provide employees with wellness intranet, alternative transportation subsidies, healthy snack packs and wellness coaches. The finalists were judged based on specific metrics and qualitative assessments of their success in creating the kind of workplaces that engage employees and deliver successful results.
The Healthy Beverage Company, owner of Steaz ready-to-drink tea brand, has reported a 38% increase in sales for the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2009. The company also announced the appointment of Jim DePietro, a former executive from Unilever and Pepsi Lipton Partnership, as CEO and Steven Kessler as President. According to DePietro, Steaz's growth is a result of increased consumer demand for the brand, distribution gains into strategic grocery accounts and successful targeted direct-store-delivery expansion in Southern California. The company has also received a further cash injection from its current investment group led by Switzerland-based Inventages Venture Capital.
After rebranding its tea subsidiary to Tata Global Beverages, the company has now unveiled three brands which will lead its global branding initiative. Tetley, Good Earth and Himalayan will be taken to developed markets such as the US, Canada and Europe, and the emerging ones of Africa and the CIS countries. The move is seen as a clear indication that tea, coffee and water are to become Tata's core segments. Company's flagship Tata Tea marque, as well as Eight O'Clock brand will continue to be managed on a regional level for the time being, with the possibility to roll them out globally later on.
Sweet Leaf Tea Co., a manufacturer of flavored iced teas, has increased the amount it received in its latest round of funding from $14 million to $19 million. According to the latest filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the company received $19 million from 17 investors, with Nestlé Waters North America investing $15.6m last year. Sweet Leaf, founded in 1998, bottles about 10'000 gallons (38'000 liters) of tea a day and is distributed in every state in the US. It employs about 36 workers.
In a move that is likely to have a huge impact on the tea industry, Nestlé has announced plans to sell a line of premium tea and tea brewing machines. Nestlé, the world's largest food company, plans to sell 25 'Special.T' tea varieties and a Nespresso-style tea making machine in France from September. Tea machines will cost €89 ($110) and tea pods will cost €0.35. 'Special.T' line will be available in green, black, red and blue varieties, as well as Earl Grey lime and blueberry muffin flavors. The machines will be able to "read" each capsule and brew the tea at different temperatures and speeds, depending on the variety. The western European tea market is worth €4 billion, whereas the coffee market is estimated at almost €13bn, according to Nestlé.
McLeod Russel India Ltd., the world's biggest tea grower, plans to use rising prices to build a 'war chest' of as much as $250 million to acquire companies. After buying plantations in Uganda, Vietnam and Rwanda, the company is looking to buy more companies in India and Africa as it targets a 50% increase in production to 150 million kilograms in three to four years. McLeod Russel expects India’s demand for tea to rise 3.5 percent annually, outpacing the estimated 1.5% increase in production this year. Prices in North India, which accounts for 70% of the nation’s output, may rise as much as 15 percent as demand for the beverage grows and costs increase.
Eric Schnell, co-founder and president of the Healthy Beverage Company and creator of the Steaz brand, has exited the company. During his eight year stay, he is credited with creating the company's tea-based product innovations including the first organic soft drink in 2002, first organic energy drink in 2007 and first complete line of organic and fair trade certified canned iced tea products in 2008. Schnell's departure comes amidst ownership and management changes at Steaz, including majority ownership shifting to Switzerland-based private equity group Inventages. Schnell will retain a significant equity position in the company.
Tata Tea has chosen a new company name, Tata Global Beverages Ltd., to better reflect its diversified portfolio and global ambitions. The Indian company, worth $1.07 billion, has branched out into products like coffee, energy drinks and mineral water. Tata Tea, which has a presence in 60 countries, had acquired several global companies in the past years such as Eight O'Clock Coffee and Tetley, expanding is business from a pure tea and related plantation company to a beverages major across the spectrum. It will remain part of the Tata Group, with 357'000 employees worldwide and total revenue of $70.8 billion.
Coca-Cola is focusing on strongly expanding the availability of Honest Tea throughout the US. The soft drinks giant, that purchased a 40% stake in Honest Tea in 2008, says the majority of franchise distributors have committed to the expansion, including retail giant Wal-Mart. Coca-Cola has also helped finance a $1 million tea brewer at one of its bottling plants to process Honest Tea, which steeps tea leaves in hot water rather than mixing a manufactured powder. Honest Tea sold about 5 million cases last year, for revenue of $47 million.
Sweet Leaf Tea, a producer of organic ready-to-drink iced teas, is participating in an initiative to support the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Lemonade Day, taking place on May 2nd in several US cities, is an event dedicated to teaching children the basics of building a business by having them create their own lemonade stand and unique lemonade flavors. The company, that started from scratch in Austin, Texas more than a decade ago, is playing an active role in this year's festivities and will be sponsoring several smaller fundraisers and contests in addition to the main event.
Tata Tea, India's largest tea company, and Pepsi Co. are planning a joint venture to make non-carbonated, ready-to-drink beverages. The initiative, aimed at health-conscious consumers, would give a significant boost to Tata's international ambitions and help Pepsi diversify into healthier beverage sectors. This comes as the Indian company is planning to broaden its brand portfolio and expand into new product categories and markets. It is in talks with several players, including Pepsi and Coca-Cola for distribution joint ventures on a global scale.
The company has announced the successful completion of several business and product development milestones, as well as substantial volume growth in 2009. The iced tea maker sold its wholly-owned subsidiary Nutritional Specialties Inc., thereby reducing its debt to $2.7m, compared with $11m in 2008. Case volumes increased by 38% to 401'000, as the distribution network grew to 100 distributors in 35 states. New Leaf has also recently added a new product line of lemonades in three flavors and one half-and-half flavor. These new products complement its range of 14 ready-to-drink iced teas.
Sweet Leaf Tea, the Austin-based ready-to-drink iced tea manufacturer, has purchased Tradewinds Beverage Co., a competitor from Cincinnati. Tradewinds, founded in 1993, makes teas and juices kettle-brewed in Ohio, and will continue daily operations as normal until the label is integrated into Sweet Leaf marketing. Sweet Leaf hopes the acquisition will expand market reach in the Midwest where Tradewinds has strong distribution channels. Sweet Leaf, founded in 1998, bottles about 10,000 gallons of tea a day and is distributed in every US state.
Lipton Ice Tea is scaling back its TV ad campaign in the UK as industry experts question brand's prospects on the market. The TV commercial, featuring global brand ambassador Hugh Jackman, will only be available online, despite running on TV in other countries. According to market specialists, this is due to the fact that Lipton Ice Tea does not make sense culturally in the same way as it does in the US and in other parts of Europe, because tea is consumed hot in the UK. Also, they note that Lipton's consistent marketing support over the past five years has yielded limited impact on the highly competitive UK soft drinks market.
Coffeewiz, an e-retailer of single-serve coffee and tea, has added Tavalon gourmet loose teas to its range. The online store, based in Moonachie, NJ., will source a wide range of premium loose varieties to complement its lineup of single-serve products in K-cups, Pods and T-discs. This move comes after the introduction of infuser mugs and teapots, allowing easy brewing of loose leaf tea. Tavalon, a New York City based tea company, will supply varieties such as Earl Grey Reserve, NYC Breakfast, Kama Chai Sutra and Jasmine Dream.
The founder of Sweet Leaf Tea, who started the tea company in 1998, is replaced by the company's current president, a former executive at Nestle Waters North America. Clayton Christofer is stepping down and being replaced by Dan Costello as CEO, who began managing Sweet Leaf's day-to-day operations last year when the unit of Nestle invested $15.6 million in the Austin, Texas-based company (with an option to buy it in the next three years). Christopher will stay on as a member of the Sweet Leaf Tea board of directors. Nestle and private equity firm Catterton Partners are Sweet Leaf's biggest shareholders. Catterton invested $18 million in Sweet Leaf in 2008.
Starbucks has announced the launch of nine ready-to-drink bottled tea beverages aimed at the huge Chinese tea drinks market. The products include three original-leaf Chinese-style tea drinks, four original-leaf foreign tea drinks, and two handmade special tea drinks. Apart from the beverages, Starbucks has also launched related accessory products such as tea cups and teapots. The launch of tea drinks is in response to the demands of local consumers, according to the company. China is the world's biggest tea market, with around 200 million regular tea drinkers.
New Leaf Brands, the manufacturer of sweetened ready-to-drink iced teas, has announced three new deals with Anheuser-Busch distributors in North Carolina. RH Barringer, City Beverage Company, and Harris Incorporated of Henderson, all distributors of alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, have begun distributing New Leaf Tea in their respective regions in North Carolina. New Leaf Tea comes in 14 unique flavors and is available in over 8,000 outlets including restaurants, delis, health food stores and other retail establishments.
Tetley, the world's second biggest tea company, has announced plans to source all of its branded tea from Rainforest Alliance certified farms by 2016. The company, owned by Tata Beverage Group, will start supplying sustainable teas in the UK foodservice sector by this April and in Canada by early 2011. The project will be rolled out to the US, Australia and mainland Europe in 2012. Tetley sells black, green, red, flavored and decaffeinated teas, and has a presence in 70 countries. The majority of Tetley tea comes from Kenya, Malawi and North India.
Whole Foods Market reported quarterly profits 71% higher from a year ago and boosted its financial targets for 2010. Sales rose 7% to $2.6 billion and net income for the fiscal first quarter was $55.1 million, compared to $32.3 million for the same period last year. The surprising numbers are a result of managing expenses and pushing effective promotions. Identical-store sales, a key barometer of grocer health, rose 2.5% for the quarter. Whole Foods now forecasts annual sales growth of around 10%. 16 new stores are expected to open their doors in 2010.
Bigelow Tea Company has enlisted the services of Wayne Gretzky to become the company's spokesperson in the US and Canada. Gretzky, who won 4 NHL championships and multiple other awards, is regarded as the best player in the history of the NHL. According to the company, Gretzky was chosen for the embodiment of sports excellence and wholesome vitality, as a perfect fit with the Bigelow Green Tea "story".
EcoTeas, a small organic tea company from Ashland, Oregon, has achieved Fair Trade certification for its entire range. Known for its unsmoked yerba mate products, the company now boasts an accreditation for its entire operations, including rights of workers, environmental management and trade relationships. EcoTeas also uses only organic ingredients, participates in reforestation efforts in Argentina and is on its way to 100% biodegradable / recyclable packaging.
According to a press release, New Leaf Brands, Inc. will soon be available across Arizona. The company, which manufactures flavored ready-to-drink iced teas, has reached a distribution deal with Crescent Crown Distributing. Crescent Crown sells and delivers over 26 million cases annually throughout their distribution territories in Arizona and Louisiana. Additionally, Quick Trip Convenience Stores will stock New Leaf Teas in all of its 70 Phoenix Metro convenience stores.
Kehe Food Distributors, the leading distributor of natural and specialty food products in the US, has agreed the purchase its main rival, Tree of Life North America, from Netherlands-based Royal Wessanen for $190 million. The deal will allow Royal Wessanen to reduce its debt and focus on its European business, and will consolidate distribution opportunities for food and beverage companies aiming at the US natural foods channel. The consolidation of Tree of Life into Kehe will also extend Kehe's presence in neighboring Canada.
Newby Teas, a UK-based premium tea company, plans a further expansion in India's premium tea market. The manufacturer is looking to strengthen its position in the HoReCa sector and aims to enter the retail market thereafter. Newby plans to establish its presence more than twenty Indian cities in the first three years of operations, with Kolkata serving as a base for distribution and logistics. The company is known for its novel methods of tea preservation and quality control during the entire supply process.
Starbucks Corporation announced that it will enter the ready-to-drink coffee category in Europe. The coffee giant has signed an agreement with Arla Foods, one of the largest dairy companies in the world, for the manufacture, distribution and marketing of Starbucks-branded premium RTD coffee beverages in Europe. The market is worth approximately $550 million (€368 million). The company hopes to extend the "Starbucks experience" to consumers beyond its retail stores, while broadening global distribution channels.
McLeod Russel of India, the world's largest tea manufacturer, has acquired a 100% stake in James Finlay's Ugandan tea plantation. Mcleod's subsidiary Borelli Tea Holdings Ltd is picking up the stake for $25 million. The acquired firm is involved in growing, processing and marketing of black tea and owns six tea estates with annual production around 15 million kilograms of black tea. The new acquisition will help McLeod Russel expand its yearly capacity to 96 million kilograms.
Choice Organic Teas is the first tea company to enroll as an official participant in the Non-GMO Project's Verification Program. The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization establishing a consistent non-GMO choice for organic and natural products that are produced without genetic engineering or recombinant DNA technologies. The Project verifies all types of products, including those (like tea) that are not yet produced commercially in GMO form.
Green Mountain Coffee has secured a deal to buy Diedrich Coffee for $290 million or $35 a share. It also agreed to pay an $8.5 million termination fee to Peet's Coffee & Tea, which had agreed to buy Diedrich before Green Mountain stepped in. Diedrich makes single-serving coffee and tea packets, also known K- Cups, used in Green Mountain's Keurig coffee makers. Diedrich is Green Mountain's third significant acquisition in the last nine months, after Tully's Coffee brand and Canada-based Timothy's Coffees of the World.
New Leaf Brands, makers of ready-to-drink iced teas, has announced the completion of a $1.5 million private debt financing. The financing will be used for working capital and inventory to meet New Leaf's existing product demand in 2010 and execute on its plans for expansion. According to the company's CEO, the deal will help meet all existing orders and expand its footprint nationally by growing the distribution network.
Following similar moves from its competitors, Bigelow Tea is expanding its online presence with a revamped web platform. It features a redesigned website and a blog, which is meant to keep customers up-to-date on company's latest developments. Bigelow Tea is also increasing the use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, aiming to boost contact points with its customers. Several short "Tea-V" videos on tea preparation and enjoyment will be featured on Youtube.
Looking for new ways to attract customers, a New York restaurant started catering to a new clientele: kids. The Russian Tea Room, a high-end establishment with more than 80 years of history, offers tea and snack menus for children in order to attract visitors that have been neglected during better economic times. The goal is to make the lavish venue less pretentious and more welcoming to the average consumer. The city's fine dining establishments suffered a nearly 5% decline, with 30 closing in the past year.
The CEO of Honest Tea, Seth Goldman, assured attendees of 2009 Net Impact Conference that the company's commitment to produce healthy, organic and less sweet drinks has not changed since Coca-Cola became a majority stakeholder in his company last year. Some clients were put off by this partnership, including New York University, who had banned all Coke-related drinks to protest the company’s human rights record. Goldman pointed out that the deal allowed a healthy product to be made available to more customers.
The Wellness Group Tea, a Singapore-based tea company which opened last year, is creating a line of teas inspired by fashion trends worldwide. The luxury tea range integrates colors and trends of fashion lines into tea blends. The concept was developed by the company's chairman, who previously worked as a brand-building executive at US designer label Tommy Hilfiger. TWG Tea is already working on its autumn/winter 2010 "collection". It will be available at luxury stores like Harrods in London and Dean and Deluca in the US.
Twinings, the famous British tea company, is planning to move a large part of its domestic operations to Poland and China. The company, owned by Associated British Foods, is consulting employees over plans to reorganize its tea operations, with up to 400 employees, or half of its UK staff, predicted to lose jobs. Under the plan, the company's existing Chinese factory would be doubled in size and a new factory would be built in Poland, to cater for the growing taste for tea in continental Europe.
New Leaf Brands, Inc., a company selling ready-to-drink iced teas, is expanding its distribution into Whole Foods Market in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the US. The beverage line, containing only natural ingredients, will be available in additional 22 stores. According to New Leaf's demo manager, the target audience at Whole Foods fits the niche of people looking for something sweeter without having to choose something with high fructose corn syrup.
A tea room in Fort Collins, Co. opens with an aim to support international activism and social awareness while enjoying a nice cuppa. Happy Lucky's Teahouse and Treasures, which serves almost a hundred varieties of loose-leaf tea, is selling a range of Cambodian-made merchandise such as bags, scarves and purses. The tea room is also donating 10% of its sales to a charitable organization founded by its owners and focused on creating and sustaining schools in Cambodia.
Honest Tea announced the hiring of a Coca-Cola executive to expand its distribution. The Bethesda-based company, part-owned by Coca-Cola, will tap the experience of Chuck Muth, a 30-year veteran of the bottling industry, who most recently worked as senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Coca-Cola bought a 40% stake in the company for $43m in 2008. Honest Tea is on track to make $50 million in sales this year, up from $38 million the year before.
Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft-drink maker, is testing a machine for restaurants that can brew more than 18 different kinds of iced tea. The device, called the Flex Fresh, can make tea by the glass, pitcher or gallon, with a possibility to add sweeteners and flavors. The move is aimed at boosting sales volume by offering more variety, as Coca-Cola continues to trail PepsiCo on the ready-to-drink tea market. PepsiCo has 39 percent of the ready-to-drink tea market in the US, compared to Coke's 9.6%.
After a two-year effort, Lipton's tea plant in Suffolk, Virginia has been announced as "zero landfill". The plant, which produces tea bags and other products, recycles 70% of the waste, with the remainder being composted or converted into renewable energy. Initiatives include eliminating plastic strapping on pallets, replacing non-recyclable cleaning wipes with reusable rags and using reusable plastic pallets instead of wooden ones. Suffolk's plant, Lipton's only plant in the U.S., is the largest plant in the country.
One of Britain’s award-winning tearooms is claiming to be the first tearoom to offer teas from five continents. Peacocks, owned and run by George Peacock and Rachel Lemkov, has been operating for five years in Ely, Cambridgeshire, and has won several awards from the UK's Tea Guild. In 2007, it was named Tea Guild's Top Tea Place. The menu contains 66 teas from around the world, including varieties from Brazil and Australia.
Celestial Seasonings celebrated its 40th anniversary this week at its headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. Over the years, the company, specialized in teas, herbs and coffee, and focused on social responsibility and sustainability, has grown from a small supplier of herbs to a major player in the tea business, with sales over $100 million worldwide. Celestial Seasonings' products are currently sold in 60 countries and ingredients are sourced from over 35 countries.
McLeod Russel, the world's largest tea producer, has purchased a controlling stake in Gisovu Tea Company via its UK arm. The Rwandan tea company has an annual output of 1.7 million kilograms of tea, which would bring McLeod’s annual production capacity close to 82 million kg. Borelli Tea Holdings Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of McLeod Russel in the UK, will pay $2.75 million for a 60% stake in the company, with the rest of the shares owned by the Rwandan government and local co-operatives.
In a move to cut costs and boost profits, PepsiCo agreed to buy bottlers Pepsi Bottling Group and PepsiAmericas in a $7.8 billion (EUR 5.4 bn/£4.6 bn) deal. The second-largest soft drink maker in the U.S. will pay a premium of about 45% to the bottlers' closing prices the day before Pepsi launched unsolicited bids in April. Buying the bottlers will consolidate 80% of Pepsi's North American beverage volume, which will speed decision-making and eliminate friction between the companies.
The world's largest tea producer, India's McLeod Russel, has set its sight on African tea plantations, according to a company official. The company, which produces approximately 80 million kilograms of tea annually and exports around 30 million kilograms, is focusing primarily on Kenya and hopes the acquisitions can add 5 to 10 million kilograms in the near future. McLeod Russel plans to source between 20 and 30 percent of its production from outside India in the next five years.
Starbucks, owner of Tazo Tea, is experimenting with a new store concept in its home town of Seattle. One of the stores will reopen under the name "15th Avenue Coffee and Tea", featuring live music performances and poetry readings to give the premises a more local and grassroots touch. Also, beverage menu will be enlarged to include alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine. This comes as a response to customers reigning in spending during the recession and rival businesses upgrading their coffee menus.
Lipton has been confirmed as the biggest buyer of tea during the first half of the year at weekly auctions held in Mombasa, Kenya. The company, owned by anglo-dutch conglomerate Unilever, bought 32 million kilograms of tea in that period, according to the founding brokerage firm of the auction. The amount represents a fifth of all tea sold in Mumbasa. Global Tea Commodities Ltd. came in distant second with 14 million kg, followed by James Finlay Ltd. with 13.5 million kg. Kenya is the world’s biggest exporter of black tea.
The price of afternoon tea at Dublin's exclusive Gresham hotel has been cut by nearly 30% due to a decrease in customer spending. The tea, served with a three-tier cake, will be available for €18 ($25), instead of the previous price of €25. This comes in stark contrast to Britain, where prices for such treats remain high due to a comeback of this typically British pastime, with one in ten Britons planning to succumb to the pleasures of afternoon tea.
Lipton has teamed up with National Geographic to accentuate its sustainability efforts during the launch of its Rainforest Alliance-certified teas in the US. National Geographic will create photographs and videos documenting the company's journey and commitment to sustainability. The material will feature images from Lipton's Tea Estate in Kericho, Kenya and will be distributed via multiple National Geographic media platforms.
Narien Teas introduces Hawaii-grown tea and thereby becomes the first US mainland tea retailer to offer tea from the exotic island. The Florida-based company started selling Kilinoe, or "misty rain", green tea sourced from Hawaii's Big Island Tea. The company believes that Hawaii's fertile volcanic soil, wafting mists and unique island weather patterns make it an ideal spot for tea farming. The price for spring-harvest tea will start at $9 for five grams.
The Brazilian Justice Ministry approved the acquisition of local bottled-tea maker Leao Junior by US beverage giant Coca-Cola. However, to avoid market concentration, Coke must sell its local Nestea brand for the deal to go through. Matte Leao is Brazil's leading maker of bottled teas. At the end of 2006, the latest data available, Matte Leao held a 45.7% share of the bottled-tea market, compared with AmBev-distributed Lipton, at 24.7%, and Nestea at 24.4%.
India's Tata Tea has reported a staggering 55 percent fall in consolidated net profit for 2008-2009 period. Net profit came in at Rs. 700.55 crore ($148m) for the year ending March 31, 2009 against Rs. 1,542.55 crore in the previous year. A sharp rise in input costs and fluctuations in the commodity and currency markets have negatively impacted the results, according to the company.
Numi Tea has recently partnered with Big Tree Climate Fund to offset its carbon footprint. The partnership is based on a twofold offsetting program, which includes purchasing renewable energy certificates and carbon offsets. The Oakland-based company underwent an annual emissions audit through calculations of carbon output in electricity and natural gas usage, employee air travel, use of company car, pounds of landfill use and overall shipping for 2008. Big Tree will then source and supply the equivalent amount of carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates.
Ito En, the Japanese beverage manufacturer, is expected to announce a 46% drop in consolidated operating profit to about 10.3 billion yen ($108.7 million) for the fiscal year ending in April 30. Causes for the unexpected fall include higher materials costs, concerns about produce grown in China and weak consumer spending, which forced the company to sell more products at discounted rates. Overall sales are expected to remain unchanged at 328 billion yen ($3.45 billion) even though the firm had anticipated a 3 percent increase.
Coca-Cola, the world's largest beverage maker, is said to abandon its bid for Chinese Huiyuan Juice Group, after a full $2.5 billion (£1.65 bn) takeover was blocked by Chinese regulators. The Atlanta-based US company was set to take a compromise minority shareholding, but sources now say that Coke wants complete control of the company or no involvement at all. Huiyuan Juice has a 44 percent share of China's pure juice market.
Honest Tea will be the first company to use a new lightweight bottle in the hot-fill category, developed by Graham Packaging Company. The new packs are on average 20% lighter than similar PET bottles on the market today, which means they necessitate less resources to make the bottle and fewer energy to transport it. While the bottle initially will be used for teas, juices, and isotonic drinks, it is also suitable for jellies, jams, and salsas.
The founding site of Peet's Coffee and Tea Company has reopened after renovation. The Vine Street shop was opened in 1966 by Alfred Peet in North Berkeley, bringing the aroma of coffee beans he roasted himself to the neighborhood. The renovations were focused on a new room dedicated to the nationwide chain, with antique coffee roaster, tasting supplies, ledgers and original Peet's coffee bags on display.
Bigelow Tea has partnered with Van Houtte, a Canadian gourmet coffee maker, to develop the US K-Cup market. A K-Cup is a plastic container with a filter inside, allowing a brewing machine to force hot water through it into a mug. For Bigelow, the business has expanded at a 45% annual rate since its beginnings four years ago. The Bigelow K-Cups include English Breakfast, Green Tea, Earl Grey, Cozy Chamomile, Mint Medley, and Green Tea with Pomegranate varieties.
Innocent Drinks, the UK-based smoothie drinks company, has sold a minority stake to the Coca-Cola Company for £30m ($44m). Under the terms of the deal, the beverage giant will receive 10 to 20 percent stake in the ethically-minded smoothie company founded in 1998 by four mates after a successful try-out at a music festival with £500 worth of fruit. Innocent Drinks, which operates in 13 European countries and had a turnover of £100m ($145m) last year, will use the funds to bolster its presence across key European markets.
Nestle Waters North America, a subsidiary of Swiss food giant Nestle, has invested $15.6 million in Sweet Leaf Tea Co. with an option to buy the entire company in three years. The funding should help Austin-based Sweet Leaf expand its distribution nationwide within the next two years. Sales of ready-to-drink teas have slowed in the recession, although the category has held up better than sodas, rising 1.3% in 2008, after double-digit growth in previous years. Sweet Leaf Tea was founded in 1998 and today carries a line of 10 classic iced-tea flavors and one lemonade flavor.
Tata Tea, part of Tata group, is reportedly planning to consolidate its vast beverage business under a single entity to enhance operational performance and reduce costs. Tea, water and soft drink units would likely be housed by Tata International, resulting in a clear holding, operating and reporting structure. The group is also looking at merging Mt Everest Mineral Water and Himalayan brands with Tata Tea. Financial experts believe that a single consolidated entity could also be used to raise money for future expansion needs and to reduce the group’s debt.
Beverages and Beyond Brands Inc., a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Bottling Co., has recently bought Bazza High-Energy Tea brand, a company specializing in new and alternative beverages, from Louisville-based Cooper Tea Company. Bazza High-Energy Tea is a blend of green tea, guarana and yerba mate, containing a high concentration of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, antioxidants. The deal gives Beverages and Beyond the rights to North American, Mexican, Canadian and Caribbean markets.
Gong Fu Tea, a Des Moines, Iowa-based tea shop, was among the very few companies selected to supply gifts to Hollywood's elite at this year's Oscar pre-party. The tea samplers, included with other five products, were given to every guest at a fundraiser for research on cancer and Alzheimer's disease, which included many A-list celebrities. The party planners in Hollywood found the shop online using Google and contacted them directly to see if they'd be interested in contributing to the gift bags.
The share price of Whole Foods Market, America's largest premium grocery chain, rose 37% on Thursday after two upgrades from analysts assessing its earnings report. The Austin, Texas-based company reported a better-than-expected 17% decline in first quarter income due to slowing store traffic. Yet analysts were encouraged by more value offerings and many internal expenditure cuts to reverse the decline in its operating performance. Sales for the 16 weeks up to January 18 were unchanged at $2.5 billion.
BG restaurant at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City is looking to add a little flair to its tea menu during the New York Fashion Week. From 13 to 20 February, the restaurant, located on the top floor of the Fifth Avenue luxury store, will launch its version of Prêt-à-Portea, an afternoon tea originally conceived by the Berkeley Hotel in London. The restaurant will serve cookies, petits fours and layered desserts based on the creations of various fashion designers, available for sale in the store below.
Tata Tea has started a huge restructuring plan of its US operations to scale down costs and grow revenues in a challenging environment. The company has shut down Tetley's office in Shelton, Connecticut, and is also in process of relocating the administrative, marketing and sales offices of Good Earth Corp, a specialty tea company it purchased in 2005. Tata thereby hopes to take full advantage of economies of scale from a join venture with Harris Tea Company, the largest blender and packer of private label teas in North America.
Clipper tea has come out with a re-branded look after nearly a decade. The company that pioneered organic and Fairtrade teas in the UK hopes to highlight its commitment to great tasting tea through a clearer and more attractive packaging. Before introducing the new look, Clipper included over one million inserts in its tea range to give consumers a sneak preview of the new design. Clipper is the UK's biggest Organic tea brand, and the number one selling Fairtrade tea brand. It also has the second largest share of the Green Tea market.
The company behind Lancashire Tea says the future of the brand is under threat after it was removed from most Sainsbury's stores - one of the biggest supermarket chains in the UK. Sainsbury's reduced the company's exposure to 33 stores compared with more than 300 previously. Lancashire Tea, which has lost money since it was founded three years ago, could face collapse within 12 weeks unless sales rise. The founders plan a "save Lancashire Tea campaign" and hope local people will help save the brand.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition advocacy group based in Washington, DC., has sued Coca-Cola over "deceptive" health claims relating to VitaminWater drinks. It accuses Coke of selling sugar water using false claims about vitamin content that is supposed to boost immunity and reduce the risk of disease. Coca-Cola spokesperson has dismissed the lawsuit as "ridiculous and ludicrous". Coca-Cola bought Glaceau's VitaminWater for $4.1 billion in June 2007.
Twinings, one of UK's top tea brands, has reported that sales of premium teas have fallen in face of the current economic slowdown. The company, which has been around for more than 300 years, says that tea drinkers in the UK and the US were more likely to choose "everyday" tea instead of more expensive brands. Responding to this trend, Twinings will expand its offer of low priced teas as UK's major supermarket chains launch their own budget ranges.
Mighty Leaf Tea has announced that it is teaming up with James Beard Foundation as the official tea supplier. James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in New York City and dedicated to preserving and promoting American food heritage, will use Mighty Leaf teas for their chefs' cooking. The donations are part of the recently launched Mighty Leaf Tea Foundation aimed at supporting artisans in their communities.
In an attempt to widen its offer of healthy beverages, Starbucks is launching three new tea-based lattes and two tea drinks. The new lattes are made with steamed milk and Tazo full-leaf tea bags, whereas Tazo Tea Infusions will feature a mix of black tea and fruit juice. The latte drinks cost between $2.85 and $3.50 for a tall. The infusions will be priced at $2.40 to $2.70 for the same size.
Aiya Co. Ltd., the world's leading manufacturer of Matcha green tea, has earned the respected ISO 22000 certification for food safety management. The accreditation, issued by International Organization of Standardization, guarantees a high level of food safety practices in the entire manufacturing chain, thereby providing a seal of quality to buyers and retailers. Aiya is the first in the Matcha industry to receive such certification.
Whittard of Chelsea, a British chain of tea shops, is near administration according to latest reports. The owners of the business, which sells tea, coffee and accessories, are actively seeking a buyer, while accounting firm Ernst & Young are already on standby as administrators. Whittard is owned by an Icelandic investment company Baugur and was purchased in 2005 for about £21m ($31.8m). Baugur was hit by turmoil in Iceland's economy earlier this year. Whittard, founded in 1886 by Walter Whittard, has 130 stores in the UK.
The CEO of PepsiCo, the second largest soft drink manufacturer in the US, has revealed that the company plans no new acquisitions in the current economic climate, despite sales of carbonated soft drinks falling three percent in North America. Instead, the New York-based PepsiCo will focus on acquisitions in the growing snacks sector. Before the economic slump, the company purchased beverage companies Izze, Naked Juice and a major juice maker in Russia. It also owns Tropicana, SoBe LifeWater and Gatorade brands.
After growing only 19 percent in November, the North American sales of Honest Tea beverages should pick up in December, according to CEO Seth Goldman. Goldman, who co-founded the start-up beverage company, expects sales growth to climb to 85 percent in December - giving the Bethesda, Maryland-based company annual sales growth of roughly 70 percent. Honest Tea expects gross revenue to amount to $39 million in 2008, compared with $23 million the previous year. The company, partly owned by The Coca-Cola Company, projects to double sales in 2009 to about $80 million.
In a novel approach to determining the next packaging design of their products, the UK-based Lancashire Tea has decided to let its customers decide what they should look like. The Rehab Agency, a local design firm in charge of the project, has asked Facebook users to vote for their favorite packaging from three possible concepts or to retain the old design. The new design options include a brightly-colored range of Lancashire faces, a postcard montage and black-and-white photos of old-fashioned scenes such as women in bathing suits. The original packaging carries a map of the region.
The shares of Ito En Ltd. dropped the most in three months in Tokyo after reports of a profit decline. Japan's largest maker of green tea beverages lost 103 yen, or 6.7 percent, and closed at 1426 yen due to declining operating profit from higher promotion costs and sluggish sales of vegetable and green tea beverages. At the same time, Goldman Sachs lowered its rating on the company from "neutral" to "sell" with a price target of 1000 yen.
The Hungarian branch of Sara Lee Corporation has announced plans to invest over €4 million ($5.7 million) in its local production facilities. The investment concerns the Rákospalota plant, company's second-biggest tea packaging unit in Europe, and will be used to modernize tea production lines in order to make them suitable for applying new packaging techniques. According to AC Nielsen data, Sara Lee Hungary has become the market leader in the national coffee and tea segments with 41% and 43% market shares respectively.
The shares of Ito En Ltd., Japans largest manufacturer of green tea beverages, fell as much as 16 percent in Tokyo after a severe dip in company's profits. The shares lost 273 yen ($2.52) after the company reported a net income of 1.08 billion yen - a drop of 59 percent - for the three months ending on July 31. It cited higher costs for promotions and plastic bottles, as well as slowing sales of vegetable drinks. The stock has declined 33 percent in 2008, compared with a 19 percent drop in the benchmark Topix index in the same period.
India's Tata Tea has announced at the company's annual general meeting that it is looking for strategic mergers and acquisitions in the US and Russia to strengthen its presence abroad and access new customer segments. Tata Tea, which owns 42 brands in 45 countries, has acknowledged its transformation from a plantation to a global beverage company and stated plans to further expand into FMCG markets such as juice manufacturing, as well as a possible name change to better reflect the current complexion of the company. Tata Tea, owned by Tata Group, is the world's second largest manufacturer and distributor of tea.
Following the acquisition of a forty percent stake in Honest Tea last February, Coca-Cola Enterprises will start distributing Honest Tea and Honest Aid drinks in parts of western US in late September. Atlanta-based soft drink giant plans to carry the complete range of organic teas and fruit juices in pilot markets such as Norther California, Arizona and Las Vegas. Coca-Cola hopes Honest Tea will strengthen its portfolio in the rapidly growing organic beverage business and help challenge its archrival Pepsi Co., whose Lipton brand leads the ready-to-drink tea category in the US.
Revolution Teas is teaming up with Kraft Foodservice for national distribution in the foodservice channel. Kraft's catering arm will distribute Revolution's premium iced tea beverages and individually-packaged teas in restaurants, hotels and other eating establishments starting in May. The two companies note increased demand for high-quality tea and hope to replicate growth patterns of other premium beverages like coffee.
TBL Capital is injecting $1.8 million into Numi Tea with its sights on expanding the premium tea company's operations across the board. The capital venture fund that invests in socially responsible companies says the resources are intended to support penetration into new markets, drive new product development and increase firm's marketing activity. TBL Capital's move is the latest in a series of bids by investor groups and large companies to capitalize on health- and sustainability-promise driven brands that continue to fuel growth in the natural drink sector.
Sweet Leaf Tea, maker of ready-to-drink iced teas and lemonades, has announced a huge $18 million capital injection from Catterton Partners, a private equity firm. The company from Beaumont, TX plans to use the investment to increase its marketing and distribution efforts across the US, thereby gaining greater exposure in a market worth $2.8 billion and growing at a whopping 25% annual rate. The sales of Sweet Leaf Tea have nearly doubled every year for the past five years and the company hopes the latest move will solidify its position in what is expected to become a $4.4 billion industry by 2011.
Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Inc. has announced the retirement of two of its long-time board members, Gordon Bowker and H. William Jesse, Jr., who have served the specialty coffee and tea company from Emeryville, CA for 25 and 10 years respectively.
Coca-Cola is close to investing in Honest Tea - the up-and-coming healthy drink maker. With sales of $13.5 million last year, the company from Bethesda, MD is the soft drink giant’s latest target in search of diversification into the growing non-carbonated beverage industry. The appeal of Honest Tea lies in its comprehensive range of products that includes tea drinks and juices, as well as a line low-sugar thirst quenchers aimed at children - all of them certified organic and Fair Trade. The acquisition would give the company, in its 10th year of existence, strategic access to the mainstream market, whereas Coca-Cola would gain exposure to the booming ready-to-drink tea and coffee category with an estimated 28% annual growth.
Neville Isdell, CEO of Coca-Cola, identified tea as a “priority area” in context of lagging soft drink sales, indicating that the company is looking for acquisitions to bolster its offer of drinks oriented towards health-conscious consumers.
Mighty Leaf Tea, producer of premium gourmet tea, has received an equity investment from VMG Partners, a private equity firm specializing in building branded consumer products companies, for a reported 20% stake in the company. The tea manufacturer from San Rafael, CA offers a wide range of artisan teas distributed primarily through specialty retailers, restaurants and hotels. VMG hopes that improved demand in premium products and increased awareness of tea’s health benefits will drive future growth in this niche sector.
China’s largest drink maker Wahaha Group has announced the launch of a new soft drink, to hit stores by July, without the participation of Danone Group. Wahaha wants Danone, that didn’t take part in the project, to be “expelled” from the brand. The French giant has accused the Chinese side of undermining joint-ventures by selling Wahaha products in competing companies.
Bigelow Tea (Fairfield, Connecticut) has signed New York Yankees manager Joe Torre to tout its green tea in print and radio ads. Print ads feature Torre sitting in New York's Central Park, sipping the tea. Headline: "Look Who's Drinking Bigelow Green Tea Now." The new campaign breaks this week in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, as well as various sports-oriented magazines.
Dallas, Texas based Tempest Tea has launched a line of premium quality iced organic, fair trade certified iced teas come in black, green, white, and decaf varieties. Each blend is specially formulated for iced tea using only organically grown leaves, fruits and flavorings, and all are delicious and healthy. The new iced tea flavors include Black Ginger Peach, Decaf Mango, Green Tropical, and Green Berry Jasmine.
Seabourn Cruise Line has introduced a family of rare estate teas gathered from around the world. Known as the "Seabourn to a Tea" menu, the selection features exotic teas, freshly loose-brewed to order, and served to guests during daily afternoon tea service. The loose teas are presented in glass vials and in a wooden tea chest, allowing guests to contemplate tea aromas before selecting one to be brewed. A printed menu details other tea components and ingredients of each brew, including caffeine content, antioxidants, vitamins and other elements.
Although Indian tea giant Tata Tea is rumored to have concluded its negotiations to acquire the US specialty tea brand Good Earth, company executives with both companies have not yet confirmed that a deal has been solidified or a purchase actually gone through. Tata Tea is one of the largest tea companies operating globally and competes with mega-brands internationally. Should Tata successfully acquire one or more major specialty tea brands in the United States it will help jump-start the company in its efforts to leverage the company into the fastest growing specialty tea market.
Britannia Industries, a large British food and beverage company is reportedly preparing a bid to acquire Premier Foods Typhoo tea brand, the UK's third-largest tea brand. Should Britannia be successful in its acquisition attempt, it will follow in the footsteps of Tata Tea Ltd., which bought UK's Tetley for $432 million in 2000, becoming the world's second-biggest branded tea firm.
At the recent Natural Products Expo East trade show, OM Organics was honored with a 2005 Socially Responsible Business Award. Based in Boulder, Colorado, OM Organics is the exclusive North American distribution and marketing company for Organic India.
The awards are presented to companies or individuals that have demonstrated excellence in nine categories of values derived from the Social Venture Network’s Standards of Corporate Responsibility. The award recognizes the Organic India and OM Organics organization as a leader in the global movement to promote organic farming and improve the economic and social outlook for small family farmers and their communities.
East Indies Tea Co. has reportedly merged with German-based tea importer and blender Florapharm GmbH. According to an article in Gourmet News, groundwork for the merger began brewing at the first World Tea Expo in 2003. Both companies offer loose-leaf, bulk teas and also craft proprietary blends upon request. East Indies Tea was previously known as East Indies Coffee & Tea. East Indies Coffee Co., also does small-batch coffee roasting, and remains a separate entity based in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
Starbucks Corp., noting a solid boost in its new green tea line and food-program enhancements, reported 7% growth in August same-store sales. The coffee-retailing giant said total sales for the four weeks ended Aug. 28 rose 21% to $508 million from $418 million a year earlier. For the 47 weeks of the fiscal year to date, Starbucks' same-store sales rose 8%. Total sales increased 22% to $5.7 billion from $4.7 billion for the same period in fiscal 2004.
Corporate conglomerate Tata Tea is close to acquiring two brands in North America in the range of $100 million each. Sources close to the development said the company has shortened their candidate list to a number of brands in the beverage industry, including flavored and herbal tea, with two deals reportedly very close. If closed, the takeovers would be part of the company’s broad acquisition plan, eventually costing as much as $1 billion, surpassing its $475 million acquisition of Tetley five years ago.
Nestea, a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Company, has rolled out a new product that contains an ingredient that delivers a colder taste than conventional soft drinks. The manufacturer claims that the beverage "refreshes from the inside out" and is targeted at younger consumers. The novel products are available in the US in two flavors, lemon green tea and lime. In Europe, Unilever Bestfoods has introduced a range of herbal teas in France spiced up with exotic flavors including licorice, orange peel and wild rose in the Maroc variety, mango in the Indes blend, and mocha in the Mexique offering.
Lipton is introducing Premium Tea Pods, a new line of teas specially formulated for the Home Café single-cup brewing system. The new system purports to deliver a single cup of gourmet tea in less than a minute. The new pods are available in four flavors: English Estate, Vanilla Hazelnut, Raspberry Truffle and Citrus Blossom Green Tea.
Merrill J. Fernando's, founder of leading Sri Lankan tea brand Dimlah Tea, is enjoying success in many international markets, especially Australia. Reportedly the brand imported $35 million worth of tea last year into the Australian market, thereby ranking it third in size only behind Lipton and Twinings. Dimlah proactively promotes not only the brand, but Ceylon teas and corporate social responsibility, including recent donations to the Tsunami relief efforts.
The Dubai Tea Trade Centre defies traditional business practices according to an article in the Dubai-based Gulf News. The article pointed out that the Dubai Tea Trade Centre challenges more traditional ways of conducting business, seeking to replace it with a more efficient model. While the tea trade has been conducted through auctions for decades, the center seeks to get buyer and seller together on the same platform, rather than try to set prices or take part in the negotiations.
TEAVIGO, a green tea extract from DSM Nutritional Products, has achieved GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) affirmation, enabling food and beverage manufacturers to expand the use of the ingredient in their product development offerings. DSM reports their green tea extract is nearly colorless, odorless and caffeine-free.
India’s super-conglomerate Tata Tea Ltd., which purchased London-based Tetley Group for $475 million a few years ago, may be scouting for additional acquisitions. With the global demand for black teas relatively soft, speculation is that Tata may be seeking to expand its market presence into specialty herbal, fruit and other novel tea markets. Market researchers report that the demand for specialty teas within the UK and USA are booming compared to conventional tea offerings. The profit margins for specialty teas are also reportedly luring Tetely Group into assessment of new tea markets and potential, tea-related acquisitions.
The Republic of Tea and POM Wonderful have teamed up to create a unique Pomegranate flavored green tea. It’s a blend of all natural POM WONDERFUL Pomegranate juice and green tea from China. Recent studies show both green tea and pomegranates to be robust in some of nature's most effective antioxidants known as polyphenols. A tin of 50 bags retails for $9.
Starbucks Coffee Company has begun offering an assortment of new green tea-based beverages made with Tazo green teas. The line-up includes the new Tazo Green Tea Frappuccino blended creme, made with real matcha tea, in addtition to Tazo Shaken Green Iced Tea and Tazo Shaken Green Tea Lemonade. All three beverages will be available at Starbucks stores in the United States and Canada through September 30, 2005.
Beverage maker Arizona, whose products include Raspberry Tea, Diet Green Tea and Botanical Red Tea, may soon be part of Coca-Cola's lineup. The Atlanta-based company is looking for products that may appeal to health-conscious consumers. Possibilities include an outright acquisition or a distribution deal, though both would be complicated by an existing partnership that Coke has with Nestlé to jointly sell tea products.
Premier Foods has put its Typhoo unit tea up for sale for up to 100 million pounds. The company is understood to be unhappy with the performance of the business. Premier acquired Typhoo, a brand that is more than 100 years old, when it bought the tea and foods operations of Cadbury Schweppes in 1986. Typhoo is the third-biggest brand in the UK tea market after Unilever's (PG Tips and Tata Tea's Tetley tea.
B K Birla flagship company Jay Shree Tea and Industries Ltd is planning to acquire Singoli and Balasan tea estates in Darjeeling. Annual capacity of the two estates is 4,75,000 tons, bringing Jay Shree Tea’s total capacity in Darjeeling to over 20 million tons.
UK-based Tea Palace, touted as ‘the UK's first specialist tea emporium’, recently opened in Notting Hill, West London. The new shop and café offers 150 varieties of tea served in fine china by specially trained "tea masters." The Tea Palace also claims to have the widest selection of green teas in the country, and teas are rated for their caffeine content.
Choice Organic Teas, a brand of Granum, Inc. (Seattle, Washington), has announced that all of their Rooibos offerings will be certified organic and Fair Trade Certified™ as of August 2005. Choice Organic Teas offers plain Rooibos and Rooibos with Vanilla, available in loose leaf, 16-teabag and 20-teabag boxes.
Third Street Chai based in Boulder, Colorado has added Fair Trade Certification to its product line, in addition to using certified organic and kosher ingredients. The company notes its full line of liquid tea chai concentrates, including Chai Tea, Green Tea, Rooibos and Yerba Maté, is now Certified Fair Trade™.