Agri Business

Harrisons brews a ‘new brand’ plan to export speciality teas

V Sajeev Kumar Munnar | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on December 11, 2017

With challenges in the mass market, eyes niche teas

To leverage the growing export potential of speciality teas, Harrisons Malayalam Ltd (HML), a major tea producer in South India, is going in for a big branding exercise.

“We have firmed up plans to build an umbrella brand — Harrisons Heritage — with a logo for speciality teas such as single estate tea, white tea, hybrid and frost tea for our overseas and domestic buyers,” said N Dharmaraj, Whole Time Director and Chief Executive, SBU (A), HML.

The company has registered with for marketing, and the products, with the new tag, will hit the online and physical markets by the middle of next year.

Speaking to a group of visiting journalists from Kochi, Dharmaraj said the excess supply over demand will always put price pressure on mass-market teas. It is, therefore, important for South Indian producers to differentiate their products into speciality teas, the demand for which is growing at about six per cent — twice that of general-purpose teas.

South India’s tea production is in the range of 220 million kg and exports are at around 85 million kg.

Hence, it is important for South India to export about 45 per cent to create a better supply-demand equation internally, he said.

Today, the mass market is a challenge, and there is a need to come out with niche products.

The South Indian tea industry has been hit by low prices of teas and high cost of production. Increasing exports is critical to shore up the price line of South Indian teas.

This has to be carried out through a combination of quality improvement initiatives, he said.

Ayurvedic tea

“We won’t be successful without branding,” said Dharmaraj, adding that HML is also working with Kerala Ayurveda Pharmacy Ltd to develop an ayurvedic tea. The initial results are encouraging, and the product will hit the market soon.

Anil George Joseph, Vice-President – Tea, said that the company has introduced LED (leaf expansion time) based computerised harvesting programme using hand-held shears and harvesting machines developed in collaboration with IIT-Madras.

Besides, HML will be the first tea estate which goes for elephant friendly certification for its Lockhart, Panniar and Wentworth estates.

The initial prices of application is complete for the final audit in 2018. Certified elephant friendly tea is sourced from tea plantations that meet high standards for the protection of the pachyderms and their habitat.

According to Santosh Kumar, Senior -VP – Rubber, the company will go for inter-cropping and honey production in rubber estates to raise earnings from the commodity.

It has developed three value-added products in rubber such as de-protenised natural rubber, Nitrosamine-free centrifuged latex, and Latxsive for packaging industry.

(The writer was in Munnar at the invitation of HML)

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Published on December 11, 2017
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