Natural Raw Materials - 26.04.2021

10 exciting questions about the tea industry

The tea department is still an important part of Worlée NaturProdukte. To give you some insights into the world of flavours, we interviewed Mr. Reifke, one of the three managing directors of WorléeNaturProdukte.Mr. Reifke is responsible for the tea and botanicals departments. We hope you enjoy reading!

1. How long have you been working at Worlée NaturProdukte?
I started in June 2000. However, I have been working in the field of botanical and tea-like raw materials since the mid-1980s. Interestingly, this has always been with Hamburg-based family businesses.

2. How is the quality of the raw materials guaranteed? What challenges do you face in this regard?
The food-compliant quality of our raw materials is certainly the most decisive component. Our tested and audited network of long-standing partners in the global procurement markets ensures products, quantities and also the coordinated quality requirements. However, changes in legislation, crises and climate changes are often intensive and complex requirements that need to be managed and solved as a team.

3. How does WNP guarantee its access to raw materials?
Through closely coordinated demand planning between the procurement, sales and product management teams. Since this year, for the first time also digitally, facilitated by our new internal communication platform INSIGHT.

4. From which countries does WNP source its raw materials for different types of tea?
Basically worldwide. However, if you look at the number of tea-like raw materials, the origins of Eastern or South-Eastern Europe, North Africa as well as Asia take a crucial supply role. By the way, when we talk about tea at WNP, we are essentially talking about herbal and fruit teas as well as the respective components. Of course, we also offer green or black tea, but not as our core business. 

5. Has the demand for tea increased, remained steady or decreased in recent years?
Benchmarks have already been set by trends and changing consumer behaviour, such as the topics of organic cultivation and sustainability. Furthermore, new developments such as cold infusions, developed at WNP as a result of successful teamwork with our customers, R&D and experts in the beverages sector, have now been firmly implemented.

6. Which raw materials are currently the most popular ones?
We have to distinguish between raw material components and tea concepts. If we look at individual raw materials, rosehip, echinacea, turmeric and ginger are currently in great demand. If we look at tea concepts, these would be functional blends (e.g. additives with vitamins and minerals), herbal teas and sustainable blends (UTZ-RA label with transparent supply chains). Looking at the organic sector, spice tea blends such as ginger-lemon and chai are currently very popular. As in the conventional sector, turmeric is very much in vogue. South African rooibos tea has come back into focus due to price developments.

7. Have you noticed any changes in sales or demand for certain types of tea during the pandemic?
The pandemic has had a severe impact on our customers, whose core business is supplying hotels, pubs and restaurants. Sales have slumped significantly, which of course also has an impact on our business. The same applies in the tea trade – a catastrophe that continues.

8. What have been the biggest changes in the tea market since you have been working at Worlée?
It will be more than a challenge to procure certain products, such as camomile, in conformity with the EU Regulation, due to constant changes in food legislation, such as decreasing maximum quantities in the Contaminants Regulation within the RHmV. A scenario in which individual raw materials disappear from the market is unfortunately quite conceivable. 

9. What differentiates WNP from other raw material suppliers?
Reliability, adherence to delivery dates, innovations, a comprehensive service package covered by quality department, logistics services, R&D and a high level of competence in the areas of procurement, sales and product management. And of course the distinctive customer friendliness – simply Hanseatic!

10. Do you like drinking tea yourself and if so, what is your favourite tea?
On my various trips to Asia, I have come to know and appreciate the benefits of green tea in all its facets – 3 cups a day are therefore a must!

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