Tea and Herbal Association mid-year meet up encourages the industry to Level Up
Image courtesy of Yumi Nakatsugawa
On 28 September 2021, the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada (THAC) hosted a two-hour virtual event, Level Up to provide valued insights on international logistics, diminishing carbon emissions, and an overview of the consumer buying practices.
Shabnam Weber, president, Tea and Herbal Association, set the tone of the event, with an inspiring PowerPoint that highlighted positive world events from the past 18 months. She shared that although the agenda was not a lengthy one, she hoped it pinpointed the subjects of value to the community. The overall sentiment of the event was both positive and proactive, as attendees from across the globe logged into these insightful conversations.
The first topic on the agenda was an analysis of the complex environment of logistics and shipping. The pandemic was the catalyst behind what is currently happening in shipping and logistics, stated Bruce Rodgers, executive director, Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) executive director; however, what was once a ripple effect is now a full out tsunami. Global trade is 5% higher than it was prior to the pandemic, ports are fully congested, and there are empty containers in areas where they don’t need them, and in China, where they need the empty containers, they are not available. “There is only so much available capacity,” stated Rodgers. “The carriers are currently operating at 33% capacity, with labour remaining a huge concern across the globe.”
Both Canada and Australia are looking into anti-competition practices and the potential impact that the carrier monopoly has had on the logistical challenges that the globe is currently facing. While actions like bringing jobs back into the United States and an exploration of near shoring opportunities and sourcing flexibility may help alleviate some of this strain. Rodgers emphasised that the situation remains unpredictable,with many different players and challenges to contend for. Advocacy and education, two of the pillars of CIFFA, are two ways that the tea industry can become involved in addressing these challenges.
“The tea industry saw large growth in 2020, the pandemic served tea well, but today we find ourselves in another foreign place, we are not pre-pandemic, nor are we are pandemic, but we can also not state that we are post pandemic,” said Weber, as she introduced the next speaker, Carman Allison, vice president of sales, consumers intelligence, Nielsen IQ. Allison explored the role of tea in the past 18 months, while forecasting how the industry could continue to respond to evolving consumers’ needs. The pandemic has resulted in new purchasing behaviours, including an expansion of eCommerce and a focus on food. Approximately 70% of Canadians are either reducing their spending or being cautious; it is an uncertain economic climate with escalating costs and high debt loads. However, new growth areas are food and Ecommerce, two sectors where tea fits in nicely.
The final talk of the event involved two speakers, Benjamin Kayatz, environmental impact assessment specialist, Soil and More, and Dr Tim Bond, founder, Tea and Herbal Solutions, where they both explored the complex topic of the carbon footprint of tea. They shared that one of the challenges with determining the carbon footprint of tea, is that there is not one clear path to cultivating and processing tea. Fertiliser, machine harvesting, the withering process, and bio residue can all increase greenhouse gas emissions at the farm level. Carbon footprint is highly site-dependent, with both climate and yield having an impact. When it comes to reducing the carbon footprint, there is not a one size fits all solution, instead, It is about identifying your hotspots and then apply actions to reduce emissions, including carbon sequestration solutions and opting for less carbon intensive tools, including solar and electric solutions.
Overall, the two-hour event left the audience with a deeper understanding of the critical areas impacting the industry and insights on actions that the industry can take to Level Up.
- Long-time T&CTJ contributor, Anne-Marie Hardie is a freelance writer, professor and speaker based in Barrie, Ontario. She may be reached at: [email protected].