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The many facades of tea.

Damron specializes in private label and contract--packaging of a wide variety of teas.

We spoke with Ronald Damper, president of Damron. "We do both hot and iced tea products. In the hot tea area, we do traditional black teas, herb teas, and flavored teas. In the iced tea category, we do 1-oz. gallon pouches. We also do larger amounts, teabags that make three to five gallons for institutional use. In this area, we do both black and flavored ice teas. We also contract-pack tea concentrate on a private label basis," Damper said.

Damron does its own brand under the name of Harvest Delight. The company manufactures specially designed double-chambered teabags under the 'Quick-flow' name. Black teas, herbal teas, and flavored teas are available under the Harvest Delight label. There is also a quart-size product, produced for retail. "We are looking into expanding in the institutional area. We currently do 95% of the fast-food chain, McDonald's in the U.S., the Caribbean, Haiti,i and the Virgin Islands," Damper said.

The company is also interested in expanding the specialty flavored and herbal categories, as well as ready-to-drink cold drinks. Damper felt that the products that the company produces on a dry basis would lend themselves well to packaging as ready-to-drink products.

The company uses a variety of packing equipment to produce "Quick-flow " double-chambered teabags, pillow-type bags with or without strings, and iced tea pouches of various sizes from 1/4 oz. quart-size pouches to 5-oz. five gallon size pouches.

When asked what packaging capability the company would add if expanding packaging, Damper said he would be interested in being able to provide a foil pouch. "We are a small but innovative company, and we're working in some innovative product areas. A foil packaging capability would allow us to do a variety pack and keep the bags separate with the foil. This would be ideal for a customer who would want to sample several teas," Damper said.

In terms of trends, Damper felt that there is a need for a quality iced tea. "Private label packagers are looking for more color and taste. I think that there is a trend back to quality teas in all areas," he said.

Donovan Coffee,

Birmingham, Alabama

William A. Bowron, Jr. is president of Donovan Coffee, Inc., a coffee, tea and food--service company that focuses on the southeastern market from Oklahoma to North Carolina, including Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina. It is the only multi-generational coffee and tea company in Alabama which has been in the same family since its inception in 1906. Donovan has been responsible for several 'firsts' in marketing tea and coffee in the southeastern region. The company was the first to introduce a quart-size tea bag in the Southeast. In addition, Donovan was the first to introduce freeze dried coffee to the region.

Donovan packs pekoe and orange pekoe blends from a variety of regions. The company provides special blends for all private label customers for both retail and institutional sales. Donovan has its own brand name, Red Diamond, which it sells to retail divisions in 13 states and to coffee service in six states.

According to Bowron, Donovan does not currently make flavored teas. His feeling is that until now flavored tea has not experienced rapid growth in the Southeast. However, the company is currently looking at the possibility of adding flavored teas.

According to records, Donovan currently dominates some of the southeastern markets. "in the core markets, according to reports, we're the leading seller of tea," he said.

Bowron sees strong growth for tea in coming years. "Tea is fast becoming a replacement drink for the colas of the 70's and 80's. We've seen a growth in percent sales in the marketplace, both in our market share and in the growth of tea consumption in general," Bowron said. We've continued to have upturns. "Our percent has always been above the national growth percentage."

"There is great acceptance for tea, and we don't see or expect any downturn in the market. We're in the heart of the tea belt. Iced tea is a way of life for a lot of people here--now more than ever, even for cola drinkers," Bowron said.

"From a health standpoint, people are moving back to iced tea. We attribute some of the steady growth in our sales to the consistency and success of such leading importers as Don Thomson of Thomson, Inc."

The company is bringing a ready-to-drink, freshly brewed unflavored tea drink to market in July. The product is considered all natural and will be available in both sweetened and unsweetened products.

When asked about future trends, Bowron sees two approaches building tea production and distribution. One trend is toward a cheaper product where the marketing is price-driven with little or no interest in quality. The second approach is more quality-conscious and health-oriented. Bowron feels that a quality approach is the way to go

"The people who put out a quality tea will be successful," he said. "Quality has driven tea for hundreds of years. The European market has always known that. The American market is coming around to it. At Red Diamond, we have always valued quality. Even our advertising has a quality focus --'We're the South's Finest Tea,' and we believe that," Bowron said.

As an example, you can see quality in how tea is prepared for retail. If you see tea dust in the overwrap of the package or in the carton, it indicates a lack of attention to quality and a poor selection of tea.

In terms of shape, Donovan has made a rectangular tea bag that is heat-sealed on three sides since 1959 which is sold in 100 count cartons. According to Bowron, when combined with high grade quality teas, the retail product which is produced is the "South's Finest."

East India Coffee & Tea Co.,

San Leandro, California

At the East India Tea Co., we spoke with the national sales manager, Lisa Rogers and with purchasing agent, Tom Garber.

East India packs teabags and loose tea products in flavored and herbal tea blends. Regular flavored teas are available in teabags in such flavored blends as Cinnamon Orange, Cinnamon Orange Herbal, Sassafras Herbal, and Blackberry Herbal.

Loose teas include Orange Cinnamon, Blackberry, Minty Lemon, Spiced Orange, San Francisco blend, and a special Yule Tea blend, as well as herbals in Cinnamon Orange and Sassafras.

Bulk teas in #5 bags include Darjeeling, Earl Gray, Ceylon Select, Orange Pekoe, Formosa Oolong, Blackberry, Cinnamon Orange, Minty Lemon and in herbals Cinnamon Orange, Apricot-orange, Blackberry, Sassafras, and Crandberry-orange. Cinnamon Orange is also available in instant tea.

Tea bag products are packed 20 teabags in a printed box. "One of our biggest sellers is Cinnamon Orange, while Sassafras is one of the best'selling herbal teas. One nice thing about Cinnamon Orange is that it is sweet from the flavor of cinnamon but doesn't contain sugar. Everyone loves it," Rogers said.

We do a lot of flavored teas. We sell a lot of them. They seem to be more popular now than ever before. People who don't drink tea are more open to trying flavored teas," Rogers said. "We have thousands of little mom-and-pop, gift and gourmet shops across the country that feature our teas," she said. "We also do franchise stores and restaurants such as Hobies," Rogers said. "We're small enough so that we can be flexible and can do what a customer wants. We are willing to work with our customers to customize products for them," she said.

In terms of packaging, East India uses RMH Masshuienberg tea bag packaging machines, manufactured in Switzerland. When asked what kind of packaging equipment the company might think of adding at some future time, Garber said he would be interested in a more advanced tea bag manufacturing machine or one that would make a flat-bottom Kraft bag.

Great A & P Co., Inc.,

Monvale, New Jersey

The Great A & P Tea Co. markets both national brands as well as private labeling its own tea.

According to spokesperson, Michael Rourke, A & P markets a wide range of national brands of tea products; loose teas, teabags, and iced teas. Teabags are black teas, herbal, and flavored teas. In addition, to national brands, the company private-labels products under A & P and Waldbaum store labels and under the Master Choice brand, which is available at all stores.

When asked about trends, Rourke felt that there has been a move over the last five years into tea variety with a great deal of diversification. "This trend should stabilize over the next five years with a more consistent growth," according to Rourke.

Rourke said that flavored and herb teas have had the greatest increase in sales volume, especially in metropolitan areas. His feeling is that black hot tea has been pretty stable. When asked about different shaped teabags, Rourke felt that people like them and that the shape adds something to the product, but wasn't really certain that the shape added to the bag's efficiency.

G.H. Ford Tea Co., Inc.,

Poughkeepsie, New York

G.H. Ford Tea Co. located in Poughkeepsie, New York has been in business since 1909, established by Gertrude Ford and the unique tea blends that she developed, Gertrude's blends.

The Ford Tea Company brings a special mystique to the history of the tea industry in this country.

Gertrude Ford, an enterprising young Canadian, the daughter of a Canadian tea importer, arrived in New York in 1907 to visit her brother and market her delicious home baked tea cakes to New York restaurants and hotels. She very soon found customers but was advised that she would do better with a more staple product to sell and turned to tea. After two years of experimentation, she developed her special tea blends and the G.H. Ford Tea Co. was established in New York in 1909, moving to Poughkeepsie in 1941.

The company was purchased from Ms. Ford's estate in 1974 by Alice and Alfred Bogard and again in January 1992 by Keith Capolino.

The company currently markets 15 black tea blends ranging from English Breakfast, Russian Caravan and Earl Grey to Chinese Keemin, Jasmine and Assam, as well as a natural decaffeinated Ceylon black tea. Four Herbal blends are Chamomile, Fruit Ambrosia, Lemon Cooler, and Cinament. Flavored teas include Orange Spice, Wild Cherry, Cinnamon, Apple Cinnamon, Peppermint, Lemon, Vanilla, Raspberry, and Elderberry. The most popular are English Breakfast, Russian Caravan, Earl Grey, and Orange Pekoe. The most popular flavors are Vanilla and Raspberry.

Ms. Ford claimed a unique product identity for her tea business early on by developing the tea ball, a version of which is still used today and by identifying her tea product line with the color lavender which she used in both business and personal life. (She was advised during a tea buying trip to India, that the color purple would bring her success.) Tea tins, trucks, office walls, and packaging were lavender-- colored as well as her clothing and a lavender open Rolls Royce.

Her success with marketing quality tea included such customers as the Duke of Windsor and other members of the British Royal Family, as well as such institutions as the Algonquin and Plaza Hotels in New York City and the White House in Washington.

According to retail manager and tea taster, Sandra Checklich, the company is unique in its tea packaging. "We use tea balls, tied with a string and tag tied," she said. "The machines are the same packaging machines used by Gertrude Ford in the 1920's. According to Checklich, the tea ball machines are the only ones of their kind and were custom designed for Ms. Ford and manufactured by the Pneumatic Scale Co. Replacement parts are custom designed as needed by the company's own machinist.

"The bulk of our business is institutional in hotels and restaurants. In the category of iced tea, we have a large-size teabag measuring 6" by 8" that makes one gallon of tea. We have a regular iced tea blend, and we do special iced tea blends for institutions such as Restaurant Associates and other restaurant chains. We are currently working on developing other iced tea blends such as decaffeinated Orange Pekoe to combine with herbal teas. People want Black tea but are concerned about the caffeine. Many of our customers enjoy our Russian Caravan as an iced tea," Checldich said.

With the recent purchase of the company there will be the addition of new marketing methods, while retaining much of the company's historical and quality identification.

La Touraine, a new Jersey-based division of Chock Full o' Nuts will hold exclusive rights for wholesale distribution of G.H. Ford Tea in restaurants, essentially becoming the restaurant's gourmet tea line. According to marketing director, Melissa Polos, the company is researching new buyers for its products. "There is interest in finding tea drinkers nationally, concentrating in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, where gourmet teas are likely to be popular."

Tea is packaged in purple trademarked color paper boxes, containing 66 grams of tea balls or 8 ozs. of loose tea. "We' re going to bring back the tin after it's redesigned," Capolino said. "The time is absolutely on target for this market, and opportunity for growth is wide open," he said.

Modern Teabag Service, Inc.,

Brooklyn, New York

Modern Tea Service has been in business since 1943, specializing in predominantly private label tea products. Modem is owned and managed by Joshua Neumann, son of the original owner. The company packs regular Black tea that is custom-blended. Modern also offers a line of flavored teas that include Apricot, Orange, Orange Spice, and Cinnamon Orange. Herbal teas include Peppermint and Chamomile.

Tea bags are produced tagless, with string and tag, counted and stacked, individually wrapped or with an attached plastic strip.

Modern uses the brand name of Royal House for its regular black teas, Health Teas for its herbal teas, and Tea Circle for its flavored teas. "Flavored and herbal teas are growing in popularity. I see greater growth in these areas in the future," Neumann said.

The company used several types of packaging machinery including the Constanta, Pneumatic, and Delamare-- Williams.

Thomas J. Lipton Co.,

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

At Thomas J. Lipton we spoke with Peter Goggi, president of Royal Estates, the tea buying division of Lipton. Goggi is responsible for selecting, buying, and blending the tea that ultimately becomes a Lipton product. In his responsibility, he and his staff oversee the production of over 40 million teabags each day. "Lipton is the leader in the tea business by far--we produce every tea that's available," he said. That includes regular, loose, green, naturally decaffeinated, herbal, specialty, iced tea mixes, as well as RTD products in association with Pepsi.

The Pepsi-Lipton Tea 'Part nership markets and distributes Lipton Original All Natural, Real-Brewed Iced Tea, Lipton Brisk Tea in a can, and Lipton Iced Tea for fountain distribution.

The Company's brand names include: Lipton, Lipton Brisk, Sir Thomas Lipton, Lipton Original, AllNatural, Real-Brewed iced tea in a bottle, Lipton Brisk Iced Tea in a can, and Soothing Moments flavored and herbal teas.

The Sir Thomas Lipton Collection of traditional tea blends include English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Irish Breakfast, and Darjeeling.

In the area of flavored teas, there are 17 Soothing Moment special blend tea bags and variety collections, in regular and naturally decaffeinated.

There are over 12 Soothing Moments Herbal Tea bags and variety packs ranging from Almond Pleasure and Country Cranberry to Quietly Chamomile and Wildflowers and Honey.

Goggi said it's the specialty segments that changes rapidly. The company tries to stay close to its consumer flavor choices. "The consumer is the key to flavor selection."

Lipton is, of course, known for one of the major innovations and contributions to the tea industry--the Flo-Thru tea bag, which according to company literature is "a four-sided tea bag that exposes more brewing surface to the hot water, resulting in a more flavorful beverage."

When asked about trends, Goggi said that the ready-to-drink end of the business is attracting tremendous interest in the marketplace. "The products utilize Pepsi's tremendous marketing and distribution channels combined with our tea purchasing and blending expertise," Goggi said.

In addition, there is more research linking tea to healthfulness. "Now, there is active research showing that tea contributes to healthy lifestyles," Goggi said.

Goggi cited other market trends and their effects on the tea business. "Gourmet coffee have peaked the consumer's interest in different teas, particularly in their origins such as those from Sri Lanka, Africa, Darjeeling. I see growth potential for tea in the specialty tea market. As gourmet coffee is the growth segment for coffee, you could draw parallels to the tea business in terms of consumer interest for more variety and therefore growth in the category."

When asked about innovation in tea bag shapes, Goggi said, "As a market leader, Lipton is always looking for any innovation that would satisfy consumers needs. More importantly, you have to start with the finest quality tea available before you can package it in the form that suits the need. Consumer tastes are more sophisticated and the taste has to deliver-consistently."

Nestle Beverage Company,

San Francisco, California

According to spokesperson Andrea Cook, Nestle Beverage, trends in tea focus on the iced tea business with an array of extraordinary new products and new packaging for the complete line of Nestea products.

"Pioneering instant tea technology in 1948 with Nestea, Nestle Beverage is still leading the way in the instant tea category," Cook said. The full line of iced tea mix products includes Nestea Iced Tea Mix, a sugar-sweetened ice tea mix; Nestea 100% tea, pure instant tea in both regular and naturally decaffeinated varieties; Nestea Iced Tea Mix with Lemon; and Nestea Sugarfree Iced Tea Mix with Nutrasweet.

According to Cook, iced tea tastes are quite regional. "Northeasterners tend to favor their iced tea sweetened no sugar and artificially sweetened iced teas sell well there.

"Southerners tend to make their iced tea themselves, by brewing hot tea with teabags and chilling it over ice. They also prefer their iced tea sweetened. In the Midwest, 100% teas are popular among iced tea drinkers. Sugar sweetened iced tea is also popular in the West. Herb teas are abundant all over California."

A recent product introduction for Nestle Beverage is Nestea Instant Herb Tea, which is available in three naturally decaffeinated flavors-- Apple Cinnamon, Lemon Splash and Orange Spice. Nestea Instant Herb Teas are available in 4.23 oz. jars that make 40, eight oz. servings. Cook said that the iced tea category is experiencing so much growth because there are so many new options. "Instant herb teas will create a whole new segment, combining herbal teas with instant tea convenience, bringing new users to the category and increased growth."

"The entire country is seeing a surge in the popularity and availability of ready-to-drink iced teas; over 100 different brands are now available, adding tremendous energy to the iced tea category over all," Cook said.

The joint venture between Nestle S.A. and Coca-Cola has brought a full line of ready-to-drink iced teas to market. In 1991, the Coca-Cola/Nestle Refreshments Co. was formed to produce and distribute ready-to-drink beverages worldwide. One of the first products distributed by the new company in the U.S. was the ready-to-drink Nestea in 11.5 fluid oz. cans and 16 and 32 fluid oz. glass bottles. In March, the company introduced four new flavored iced teas: Nestea Natural Raspberry, Peach, Tropical and Apple Spice teas.

Another unique tea product, and, according to Nestle Beverage, the only powdered, fruit-flavored iced tea mixes packaged in premeasured tubs are new Ice Teasers. They are available in the East and Midwest in five flavors: Lemon, Orange, Wild Cherry, Tropical, and Citrus. Each canister contains four premeasured tubs that make a total of eight quarts of fruit-flavored iced tea.

The Nestea line has a new packaging look as well; a silver background with an icy modern graphic appearance, incorporating the traditional Nestle 'N' into the logo design. The herbal tea packaging, however, features an organic look with fruit and herb illustrations, providing a natural association to the product.

Redco Foods Inc.,

Windsor Connecticut

At Redco, we spoke with company president, Gerry Doutre. "We package tea under the Red Rose and Salada brands for the retail market. We also sell the same brands as well as Diner's Choice to the institutional markets to restaurants, hospitals and office coffee service. Another aspect of our packing is private label packaging for retailers.

The company packs hot tea, iced tea mix and ready-to-drink products under the Red Rose and Salada brands. Redco also does some business in loose tea to retail customers in 8 oz. packages. The ready-to-drink teas are packaged in 12 oz. cans, bottles and dairy packs. In addition, the company makes a tea concentrate for fast food outlets. Redco's best seller is the Red Rose brand. The company sells in 60% of the country.

When asked to comment on trends, Doutre said that the marketplace has been extremely competitive in recent years. He sees a fair degree of stability in teabag sales and growth in ready-to-drink. "Ready-to-drink teas offer a non-carbonated alternative to traditional sodas. There has been a tremendous increase in activity in the ready-to-drink category," Doutre said. "There are many new entries into this category. Looking down the road, some of them will be successful. But there is also likely to be a shake-up, with some casualties along the way," he said.

In speaking about packaging, Doutre said "Tea covers an incredible spectrum of products requiring a variety of packaging. Packing good tea consistently takes skill and ability, particularly to do so cost-effectively. We believe we offer this to our customers with our own brand or' in private label."

S&D Coffee Company,

Concord, North Carolina

"At S & D, we do ice tea only," says J.Roy Davis, president. "We have some individual hot teabags, but they are packed by Southern Tea and are a small part of our sales."

"The bulk of our sales come from a 1-oz. iced tea pouch, a product that continues to grow in sales. We also have a 3-oz. and 4-oz. package, used mainly for the Bunn iced tea brewer, primarily for food service. To give you an idea of our production, we are now running our tea business three shifts around the clock," he said.

"Some years ago, we acquired Bingham Coffee Co. in Jacksonville, Florida to supply our Florida customers. That plant was used for tea, coffee, and non-dairy creamer. We have since determined it was much more cost-effective to centralize all production in the Concord facility, and closed down that plant," Davis said.

S&D does special blends but it is a small part of the business. The company blend comes in 1, 3, 4 oz. packages that have been very popular and meet the majority of their customer's needs.

Davis said that theft business is predominantly institutional which serves restaurant foodservice, office coffee service, and convenience stores. The packaging machinery that is used is the Wright mono-bag machine. "We would like to expand our packaging and will probably do so by the summer of 1994. With our present rate of sales and expected continued growth, we are beginning to look at new high-speed packaging equipment that we might install during the 1993-94 winter in preparation for a strong selling season in the summer of 1994."

Davis felt that tea sales would continue to be strong. He projected that tea would continue to gain popularity at the expense of carbonated soft drinks. "We are aggressively pushing our tea sales and taking advantage of this trend."

Tetley Tea, Shelton, Connecticut

"We're in the round bag business now," says Duane Buck, vice president of operations for Tetley. "Tetley has changed the industry by going to a round tagless bag."

Tetley's three tea plants will soon be two, when the Savannah plant is consolidated with the Marietta, Georgia operation--the largest private label tea plant in the U.S. The Williamsport, Pennsylvania plant is 98% involved in producing tea products. In addition, there is a Morris Plains, New Jersey plant for instant tea mix and fruit drinks. Leaf tea is packed solely at the Marietta and Williamsport plants.

The company packages a variety of spedal tea blends in its private label products. It does not currently do special flavored teas in bags. Tetley is the company's own brand name. Private label includes all major supermarket chains, as well as foodservices for restaurants, hospitals, colleges, schools, and office coffee service.

In terms of packaging equipment, Tetley utilizes a wide range of tea equipment. IMA machines are used for round and square bags. In its private label plants, the company utilizes a variety of equipment: Constanta for envelopes and tags; Rose Forgroves for tagless bags; IMAs for square bags; D & W machines for teabags with mylar strips with tags; and Rovema for small and large iced teabags.

According to Buck, round bags are done at the Williamsport plant. "The round bags are quite an innovation," Buck said. "Our parent company in England has them. We have introduced them here and have had great success," he said.

Alan Davies at Southern Tea division of Tetley, spoke more about the private label program at Tetiey. "We do scores and scores of different blends to meet our individual customer requirements. We do both black and flavored tea blends," Davies said. "Our teas are packed to the taste profiles of the individual customer. We will match any specifications customers require for their tea business."

"Southern Tea does not do different-shaped bags. But we do provide a great variety of products to fit the needs of our customers be they tag, tagless, family-size bags for retail customers, plastic strips for food service, as well as a variety of different sizes and number of teabags packed per box," he said.

When asked about trends, Davies felt that all indicators were very encouraging. "In this fitness conscious environment, there is increased attention being paid to the health value of tea. If the current studies that have been undertaken indicate that tea improves your health and is, in fact, good for you, this can only mean good things for the tea industry. We are very interested in the results."

Liz Fader writes frequently on the packaging industry and is published regularly in related trade publications. She resides in New York City.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:Tea Report; tea packers
Author:Fader, Liz
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Oct 1, 1993
Previous Article:A look inside teabag paper: teabag paper manufacturers respond to environmental, packing, and marketing challenges.
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