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The Ahmad Tea facility in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

The Ahmad Tea facility in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE



Ahmad Tea out to cheer markets

The company’s plant in Ras Al Khaimah is playing a major role in advancing its brand and reach despite competition from other players and inroads by coffee

June 2014

A Ras Al Khaimah tea producer is helping boost the tea-drinking habit in the Middle East and several markets outside the region.

Ahmad Tea, founded in England in 1986 by a family with three generations in the tea trade, has its largest production facility in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE producing more than 14 million kg of high-quality teas annually.

The raw product comes from the lush gardens of India, Sri Lanka and East Africa but packaging materials are sourced from local partners so as to ensure “complete oversight in terms of quality assurance, innovation through close collaboration and timely delivery to the warehouse,” said Parag G Vernekar, company secretary of the RAK firm Ahmad Tea FZ LLC.

The RAK plant, one of Ahmad Tea’s six production facilities globally, was commissioned in 2012, has more than 200 staff from several nationalities and houses the latest packaging and blending technology from Europe. The company produces black, black flavoured, green, green flavoured and herbal teas which it offers in teabags and loose format. Teabags constitute the biggest selling range.

The company’s black tea range

The company’s black tea range

About the teabags it uses, the company insists that its foil enveloped pouches  have high-quality material and, while still providing protection, ease of storage and decoration, act as the most effective barrier from air to lock in freshness.

“Combined with a modern appearance, foil-enveloped teabags are a key facet of Ahmad Tea’s eclectic product portfolio,” it said.

“We are an English company but have been historically focused on export markets so a major part of our revenues stems from export sales. We sell to over 80 countries worldwide and our main export markets are the Middle East, Russia, Ukraine, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Eastern Europe,” said Vernekar.

 

MARKET APPROACH

“Since the opening of the Ras Al Khaimah plant, management has decided to focus its attention on the GCC markets and is actively pushing distributors to benefit from our location in Ras Al Khaimah. We’re consistently approaching new markets whether in North America or the European Union. The growth focus is to install the UAE as a real target for the coming years, benefiting from our location in RAK and seeing the UAE as what it has become: a showcase for all neighbouring countries where our tea is appreciated and drunk and our brand has been loved for years.

“We pride ourselves in having a very specific approach to entering new markets, with customers in each country having exclusive rights to distribute our products. These relationships are based on trust and healthy guidance in order to help raise awareness of our brand.”

The official stressed that quality and consistency of the company’s teas is ensured by rigorous internal standards. “Tea can only be used once our world-class director of tea tasting has personally tasted each blend and approved it for production. The result is an excellent cup of tea, with impeccable liquor colour, aroma and flavour.

He said there were no plans at this stage to expand the RAK plant’s production capacity.
 

MAINTAINING REPUTATION

Ahmad Tea’s gift range

Ahmad Tea’s gift range

Speaking about the company and the brand, Vernekar said: “Ahmad Tea was established with the belief that our reputation must be founded on the quality of our teas and this commitment to quality remains today. This is reflected in the image, branding and packaging of the entire Ahmad Tea product range which has led to sales in more than 80 countries spanning five continents.”

Ahmad Tea is a member of the United Kingdom Tea Council and ranks as the fifth largest tea company in the world (Euromonitor, 2013).

“We have been steadily growing over the course of the last decade; however market conditions and the crisis have slowed down our growth in some areas,” said Vernekar.

“We hire over 1,000 employees throughout the world  We pride ourselves in consistently being part of the top three brands in major tea drinking countries such as Russia, Ukraine and the CIS, as well as major Middle Eastern countries. We are proud to be the leader in the UK gift sector, with a presence in all major tourist outlets in the heart of London, and surrounding areas.”

From the early days of its consumption in Britain, tea has been presented as a gift. The company has an extensive range of specially themed gift items that have a root in traditional English custom. The gift items include Twelve Teas, Tea Chest Four, Tea Keeper and Wooden Box.

 

OPTIMISM

Ahmad Tea’s optimism about growth is strong notwithstanding competition from world players in the business with greater experience on the world stage and even growing inroads made by coffee in the hot beverage segment. Vernekar stated: “We are consistently looking for ways of increasing our sales – be it in approaching new markets, refocusing and consolidating on markets where growth has been identified – and having our R&D working on developing new products. So overall, there are very exciting and challenging times to come for the Ahmad Tea brand.  We’re hoping our loyal customers will carry on enjoying a moment of peace with a cup of Ahmad Tea for many years to come.”




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