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World Tea Forum Review

This past month, the Tea Association of the USA held their World Tea Forum at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Over 130 members of the tea industry attended the two and a half-day event.

Prior to the main event, the Association held extended committee meetings in order for members to task force on specific subjects. The sessions consisted of board members from various sectors of the industry, including an importer panel, a c.e.o. panel and a marketing panel. Reports from the committee’s chair were then relayed to the Forum attendees.

Many of the speakers focused on the strongest and most effective strategies for promoting tea, emphasizing on previous trends and accomplishments: Peter Rogers, the former c.e.o. of 11 food and beverage companies, presented an outsider’s perspective of opportunities for tea in the U.S. marketplace; Brad Borgman, of Euromonitor, highlighted RTDT’s progression and its wide range of consumer appeal; George Jage, of World Tea Expo, spoke on his evolving tea trade show, with a growth of more than 200% within the last two years, and where the show will be headed in the future.

Others addressed the social and environmental issues surrounding the industry, and how businesses can accommodate these concerns. David Henkes, of Technomic, explored operator and consumer attitudes towards foodservice tea, again stressing the need to sell to young consumers, while John Snell, of Van Rees N.A., led a spirited discussion on “Social Welfare or Warfare.” Also, Joseph Wertheim of Tea Importers discussed his attempts to help Rwanda, and Azam Monem, of Williamson Magor & Co., talked about the tea estate’s conditions and the amount of tea companies that provide services for its community.

There were many speakers that acknowledged simple, yet difficult subjects. Barry Cooper, of SNA Tea Co., defined white tea in an effort for the industry to fight mismarketing and fraudulent use of the terminology. This concern has baffled the industry for some time now, with companies unsure on how to present their product. Cooper will share his wealth of information with us in a future issue.

Meanwhile, Louise Pollock of Pollock Communications reviewed tea’s health benefits and urged members to market brands using the “health benefits” message. Pollock has been handling this form of marketing publicity since its inception and has generated a gargantuan amount of attention. Each month, tea is everywhere. It is emphasized on consumer magazine articles and television programming, and we should thank Pollock’s team and Marty Kushner for all their work. This message has truly helped our industry.

The essence was strong, with one message emerging throughout the forum: although this is a good product, continuing the learning process is key to developing a stable and resourceful industry.

Jane McCabe
Editor & Co-Publisher


Tea & Coffee - November/December, 2005

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