Business World


Tricks of the Trade

In case there was some confusion, Tea & Coffee Trade Journal covers two fields: tea and coffee. One would think these two industries would be large in scale; partly due to the popularity of both drinks and partly due to the numerous links in the production chain. Yet somehow, with all the shop openings and new business ventures, the faces remain the same, the familiarity grows and our industries seem smaller and smaller.

With such a tight-knit community, there is really one main thing that keeps us connected and unified: trade associations. As a “member,” they connect you to a network of other individuals striving towards the same goals, encountering the same obstacles and seeking the same information. It is a company’s involvement in a trade association that can determine their loyalty, reputation and success. To be a member of such an association shows you are willing to become part of a bigger picture and your company recognizes that without the strength and support of the industry behind it, the future of tea and coffee is unsure.

To some, the stigma of a trade association starts and ends with membership fees. In a challenging economy, a business owner must carefully edit their spending and often times, trade association membership dues are the first to be cut. While the need to save money is urgent, the decision to cease membership must be carefully weighed. That database granting you access to contact information for the rest of the members will no longer be at your fingertips. The regular reports, data analysis and studies will no longer be sent to your inbox. If “staying in the loop” is a priority, remaining a member of your trade association should be as well.

It is also easy to affiliate all trade associations with large, sprawling trade shows and exhibitions. While these trade shows help facilitate business opportunities, promote networking and supply the industry with a constantly evolving education, these events are just a fraction of the perks that come with membership.

In this month’s Time for Tea column (pg. 16), written by Joseph Simrany, president of the Tea Association of the USA, he discusses the importance of these associations and the benefits they can bring to your company. In a time where most business owners feel it’s every man for himself, it is critical to have a support system. A trade association can make your company, whether it be a mom & pop or national chain, feel like it’s part of a larger entity. These organizations throughout the tea and coffee industries work for the common goal of ensuring the sustainability of the product, but they depend on your involvement and contribution for their success.

Alexis Rubinstein


Tea & Coffee - February, 2010

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