The Right Mix for Herbal Tea
By Amelia C. Levy
Hibiscus flowers, huckleberries, jasmine, licorice root, lemon verbana… sound good? These are all just a few of Kräuter Mix’s extensive offerings of custom-made herbal and fruit teas.
located in Abtswind, Germany, supplies the tea industry (especially tea packers) with a full range of herbal and fruit teas as mono or component-rich blends that are coarse or fine cut. Coarse cut herbs are on average 10-12 mm cut size and are used for loose packing. Fine cut averages 1-3mm and is used for teabags.
The company packs loose tea in the retail sector, mainly for health and drug stores as well as for private label brands. They sell their fine cut herbs in bulk to outside packers.
“Looking at the manufacturers, there is a trend to develop new blends continuously in order to meet the changing needs of our customers,” says managing director of marketing/sales, Gerhard Schlund - and Kräuter Mix aims to give them that with their custom-made blends.
History of an Herb Supplier
Kräuter Mix was founded in 1919 by Christoph Mix, the grandfather of its current c.e.o. and purchasing manager of the same name. Kräuter means “herbs” in German, and Mix was coincidentally not only his family name but means “blending” as well. As a plant collector, Mix would air-dry the raw material on wooden frames with wire netting. He began selling blended and unblended herbal teas to pharmaceutical wholesalers as well as herb stores, and pharmacies. Later, his son optimized harvesting and processing methods by introducing new machinery and extending their business to the supply of medicinal raw materials, as well as focusing on culinary herbs like chives and parsley. Finally Christoph’s grandson (of the same name), the current c.e.o and manager of purchasing, enriched the company with his management knowledge, which he had gained earlier at a well-known pharmaceutical manufacturer.
What began as a small, local/national herb collector and manufacturer, has grown to become one of the leading international companies for herbs. The company originally supplied about 90% to the domestic market, and grew to today, where sales are 80% international. The company sells about several thousand tons to the tea industry a year. Today, Christoph Mix as c.e.o. and purchasing manager and Gerhard Schlund as managing director of marketing/sales run the company.
Kräuter Mix’s complete catalogue consists of air-dried raw material (vegetables, herbs, spices, mushrooms and infusions), pharmaceutical products (medical herbs & teas), fruit and herbal teas (infusions and raw material), contract processing (sterilization, fumigation and refining) and ready packed products.
|Warehouses at Kräuter Mix have about 25,000 sq. meters of storage capacity.
Kräuter Mix supplies the industry and the trade market and is known for its high quality assurance expressed by the DIN ISO 9011 certification, the HACCP installed system, product specifications, production profiles, and regular quality examinations. Their products meet microbiological requirements. “Kräuter Mix’s main strategy is stamped by quality and safety, tailor made products, optimized logistics and communication systems, technological up trading and the use of synergetic effects in our working areas,” says Schlund.
Following the Trends
On the forefront of what consumers want out of “tea” products that aren’t from the actual tea plant, Schlund tells us the newest trends. “About 12 years ago people consumed mainly black tea. Nowadays there is a trend towards more herbal and flavored teas (including iced teas) that are very common and very much liked.” Most blends are made out of chamomile, peppermint, rosehip, hibiscus and apple, he says. As for their iced tea customers, they supply a special blend that the client flavor on their own. He adds that teas made from herbs with health benefits are becoming increasingly popular as well. Fruit teas have also become more popular within the last few years.
“There is a differentiation between the ‘food-tea’ and ‘pharmaceutical-tea’ sector,” he says, whereas the pharmaceutical one is becoming more popular in place of Western-style medicine. “Our best selling products for mixed teas are the [ones with health benefits] like cough and bronchial tea, tranquilizing tea, gastrointestinal tea, etc.”
A Focus on Quality
Kräuter Mix imports their raw material from all over the world, from more than 30 countries of origin. “In some countries we have contract cultivators and partner suppliers that help us guarantee an outstanding raw material quality,” says Schlund. While the company is not particularly fond of a specific origin, they ascertain that there are certain countries that offer better qualities than others.
When selecting flavors, the company focuses on customer needs by matching samples given to them by customers. “In order to match the sample we test the flavor in liquid form in our own laboratory making sure to fulfill all sensorical, chemical and physical parameters,” says Schlund. “Most important is the customer orientation, matching their expectations.”
Kräuter Mix factories have several production lines for dehydration of fresh material and reprocessing as well as blending units, hand selection capacity, fumigation and sterilization with saturated steam for all cutting sizes and powders. Their warehouses have about 25,000 square meters of storage capacity.
While they were originally only a domestic supplier, Kräuter Mix now markets their products by direct sales without agencies concentrating on other European countries, in addition to the German market. Schlund sees a promising future in Eastern European countries and Asian countries, but with such a good product, fine facilities and friendly and knowledgeable staff - the sky is most definitely the limit.
Kräuter Mix GmbH, Wiesentheider Strasse 4, 97355 Abswind, Germany. Tel: (49) 9383-204-287, Fax: (49) 9383 204243, Web site: www.kraeuter-mix.de
Tea & Coffee - September/October, 2004
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