MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Coca-Cola partnering with Darjeeling's Makaibari tea estate to launch iced green tea

Coke will market the packaged drink under ‘Honest Tea’, a brand it had acquired years ago in the US. It plans to source the organic green tea exclusively from Makaibari, arguably the finest tea Darjeeling has to offer

Our Special Correspondent Calcutta Published 23.11.23, 10:42 AM
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee with Rudra Chatterjee, director of Luxmi Tea, in Calcutta on Wednesday.

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee with Rudra Chatterjee, director of Luxmi Tea, in Calcutta on Wednesday. Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha

Soft drink giant Coca-Cola is partnering with the famed Makaibari tea estate of Darjeeling to bring ready-to-drink iced green tea to India, strengthening its presence in the healthy beverage category.

Coke will market the packaged drink under ‘Honest Tea’, a brand it had acquired years ago in the US. It plans to source the organic green tea exclusively from Makaibari, arguably the finest tea Darjeeling has to offer.

ADVERTISEMENT

The alliance, if successful, will shine a spotlight on the Darjeeling tea industry, which is desperately looking for new ideas to sell its produce as demand is falling. The marketing and distribution heft of Coca-Cola can give it the much-needed edge to appeal to a wider audience, especially the younger health-conscious customers.

At present, Coca-Cola is launching the drink in the southern and western states. It will eventually be rolled out nationally over a period, coinciding with the summer months of 2024. A 350-ml bottle is likely to be priced at Rs 50. The company has so far launched two variants of the tea —lemon-tulsi and mango.

Karthik Subramanian, director, marketing — hydration, coffee and tea category, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia, said, “We are thrilled to introduce our new ready-to-drink iced green tea. With Honest Tea, we are offering consumers a unique experience of a great tasting green tea-based beverage,” Subramanian said in a statement.

The alliance was formally announced on the second day of the Bengal Global Business Summit in Calcutta in the presence of Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Rudra Chatterjee, director of Luxmi Tea, which owns the Makaibari tea estate.

“There is no greater tea estate in Darjeeling than Makaibari; it is the last word among teas, whether in Japan or England’s royal houses. It is also the choice of tea Satyajit Ray decided for his fictional detective character Feluda,” Chatterjee said in a statement.

The bottle is going to prominently feature the brand Makaibari — the source of the organic green tea. It will be a co-branded product.

While Luxmi Tea has been expanding its own reach through e-commerce, modern trade and owned exclusive retail outlets at domestic airports, the alliance with Coca-Cola is likely to give it a reach that only a few in the beverage industry can offer.

There are about 87 gardens in Darjeeling which are protected by the Geographic Identification tag. They produce 6.5 million kg of tea annually.

Honest Tea was owned by American businessman Seth Goldman, who co-founded the company in 1998 with his former Yale business professor Barry Nalebuff. CEO Goldman, a Harvard graduate, authored a book Mission in a Bottle.

The Coca-Cola Company purchased a 40 per cent stake in Honest Tea at $43 million in 2008. It bought the rest of the company in 2011. In 2009, Honest Tea US received an unpaid endorsement when The New York Times reported that it was President Barack Obama’s preferred beverage. Coke discontinued the brand in the US by end of December 2022 but it now appears to be bringing it back to India.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT