Sustainability Awards – Winners

This year marked the first year of the North American Sustainability Awards  which were presented at the NA Tea Conference (September 2016). These Awards are to recognize the hard work being put forth globally across the tea industry to further the goals of sustainability. While gold, silver and bronze were awarded in both the environmental and social categories, we want to recognize all of the entries.

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing the 27 projects that were entered, starting with the recipients of the Gold Medal for Environmental and Social.


Emrok Ngererit School World Reader Program
Submitted by: Emrok Tea Canada, Kenya

›Ngererit Primary School was built and opened in 2011 entirely from the financial assistance of the Emrok Tea operation along with other private donations raised to serve the greater community through enhanced education. Located near Kericho, Kenya, there are approximately 600 students with an equal mix of boys and girls. Emrok Tea partnered with Worldreader to raise $20,000 to provide e-reading as a solution for the students of Ngererit. In May 2016, Worldreader sent two BLUE (Building Literacy Using E-Books) Boxes to the school, which provided 100 Kindles each loaded with 100 culturally relevant e-books. BLUE Boxes contain everything needed to bring digital reading to a school, which includes the e-readers, books (schools can choose from our library of 40,000 books in 43 different languages), accessories, and Worldreader’s 7+ years of expertise in the field.



Metropolitan’s Environment Action Program/Carbon
Submitted by: Metropolitan Tea Company

Metropolitan’s main factory in Toronto, Canada has implemented numerous modifications to its plant and equipment over the last 10 years. As a result, we have accomplished a 66% reduction in utility usage (per work unit) while tripling our output over the same period. Future projects are in the planning stages that will reduce utility usage a further 12% (per work unit).




If you can’t wait to read about each of the projects of the next few weeks, you can see all of them here.

5 Tips on Everyday Superfoods for Heart Health!

By Lucia Weiler BSc, RD

October is a month of harvest plenty and is a great time to take a look at what we can do to take care of our health and wellness. Did you know that making a few simple positive lifestyle changes and sticking to them over time can make a big difference in your heart health? Here are my top 5 nutrition tips to help you embrace heart health.

1. Omega-3 Fats[1]


Omega-3 fats are essential fats that your body can’t make from scratch so it must get them from food. Omega 3 fats also deliver some big health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease. For example, Omega-3 fats appear to help keep the heart beating steadily and reducing the risk of potentially fatal arrhythmias. Omega-3 fats also help lower blood pressure, improve blood vessel function, and lower triglycerides – blood fats linked to heart disease and diabetes. Research has also found that omega-3 fatty acids prevent blood clots and may ease inflammation, which plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis.[2]

Foods high in Omega-3 include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating at least two servings of fish each week; a serving is 75 g (2.5 oz.).Other foods that contain omega 3 fats include some vegetable oils (Canola), nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds, flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables. Some foods may be enriched with omega-3 fats such as eggs, yogurt and margarine.

2. Whole Grains and Fibre


Research shows that people who eat more whole grains may have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers.[3]

To help reduce the risk of heart disease choose to get more fibre from whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit.

Oatmeal and other whole grains such as whole wheat, barley, rye, millet, quinoa, brown rice, and wild rice also help reduce the risk of diabetes, which in itself is a risk factor for heart disease.

A healthy diet includes 25-38 grams of fibre a day and many people only get about half the amount of fibre they need. You can get more fibre in your diet by making small changes that add up over time. Boost your veggie and fruit intake (see next tip #3) and include whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds in your meals and snacks. When grocery shopping, compare food labels and choose foods with 2 to 4 grams of fibre per serving.

3. Veggies and Fruit


Eat your F&V’s says comedian Jimmy Kimmel referring to fruit and veggies of course. I couldn’t agree more. Grab your F&V’s for a snack on the go, make them HALF your plate whenever you’re eating a meal! Any F & V counts and eating 5-10 servings every day may help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Many F&V’s are rich compounds that can work as antioxidants in your body. Antioxidants are natural plant compounds that have powerful health benefits. The darker the colour the better. Powerhouse dark colour veggies include broccoli, spinach, red peppers, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries just to name a few.

Tip – Frozen and canned fruit and veggies are harvested and packed at their peak, and have about the same nutritional value as their fresh version. Remember to check labels for NO added sugar or salt.

4. Nuts and Seeds – Choose them more often!


Scientific evidence suggests that eating ¼ cup of nuts or seeds as part of a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Because they contain unsaturated fat and soluble fiber, just a small amount of nuts or seeds each day can help reduce damaging high levels LDL cholesterol. Most nuts and seeds are also rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that is also thought to help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease or a heart attack.

5. Tea[4] 



The natural plant compounds found in tea called flavonoids have powerful health benefits. Studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlighted that drinking tea helps lower the risk for heart disease and stroke. Researchers in Australia found that regular consumption of 3 cups of black tea a day can result in significantly lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor of disease and small decrease in blood pressure from dietary changes may have significant benefits.

Tea contains naturally occurring compounds called flavonoids that can function as antioxidants, but researchers are finding benefits that go well beyond. While investigators are still exploring the various mechanisms by which tea flavonoids function, studies suggest multifunctional mechanism that work in tandem to improve cardiovascular health.

Lucia Weiler is a nutrition communications professional living in Toronto. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Chemistry from the University of Toronto, and an accreditation by the College of Dietitians of Ontario. As a food and nutrition expert, she specializes in marketing, education, and regulatory affairs related to food and beverages. Lucia offers insightful nutrition trends presentations and workshops as the co-founder of Nutrition for NON-NutritionistsTM . Lucia is also a faculty member at Humber College School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism and she regularly contributes to media and trade publications.  

[1] Harvard School of Public Health sourced

[2]  Leaf A. Prevention of sudden cardiac death by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. J Cardiovasc Med.(Hagerstown). 2007; 8 Suppl 1:S27-29.

[3] Dietitians of Canada, Eatright Ontario sourced

[4] Am J Clin Nutr December 2013

Working Collaboratively to Improve the Sustainability of the Tea Sector

By Sarah Roberts, Executive Director, Ethical Tea Partnership

Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) is a membership organisation of more than 40 international tea companies and retailers. We exist to improve the sustainability of the tea sector, the lives and livelihoods of tea workers and farmers, and the environment in which tea is produced.

It’s a fact that the tea industry faces many challenges. While global poverty, according to the World Bank, has declined sharply over the last couple of decades, it does endure in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa – many of the places where tea is grown. Poverty so often comes hand-in-hand with a range of other issues such as poor health and well-being, malnourishment, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, low quality housing, unsafe migration, and limited access to education to name a few.

So where does ETP fit into all of this? For a number of years we’ve been running projects and programmes that address issues that are holding back the sustainability of the sector. We also know how important it is to have sensible (sometimes tricky) conversations with the right people (Governments, NGOs, and development agencies etc.) in order to create the systemic and structural change required to improve the livelihoods of the people that grow and produce tea.

Much of our thinking at ETP is aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to end poverty, fight inequality, and tackle climate change by 2030. Of the seventeen goals, ten are pertinent to tea (see image).


Since I don’t have the space to cover all the ways in which ETP is contributing towards achieving the SDGs, I will limit myself to two examples:

In Malawi, we’re part of a coalition of stakeholders from across the entire tea value chain working to create a competitive Malawian tea industry where workers earn a living wage and smallholders are thriving. The Malawi 2020 Tea Revitalisation Programme aims to deliver six key outcomes.

The second project I want to briefly cover is our partnership with UNICEF. Together with the support of the Indian tea industry, the programme is working across more than 100 tea estates to equip more than 25,000 girls with the necessary knowledge and skills that will help them secure a better future and reduce their vulnerability to violence, abuse, and exploitation including trafficking and unsafe migration.

I’m looking forward to speaking at the North American Tea Conference where I’ll provide further insight into these programmes and others, look at how the sustainability landscape and ETP have changed, and why it’s important for the industry to work collaboratively through organisations like ETP in order to make the tea industry truly sustainable.

etp-teamup16-0213Sarah Roberts has been the Executive Director of the Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) since 2009. The ETP works on behalf of 40+ international tea companies and retailers to improve the sustainability of tea production, the lives and livelihoods of tea workers and farmers, and the environment in which tea is produced. Sarah started her career at the International Institute for Environment and Development and has held a number of senior sustainability and CSR roles.

Fall Schedule: TEA SOMMELIER® Program at the Canadian Food & Wine Institute, Niagara College

We are excited to share that the Canadian Food & Wine Institute at Niagara College will be holding two new sessions of TEA 101 & 102 this Fall!

color-15564_1920These courses will take students on a journey through the history of tea, tea types and production methods, tea grading and of course how to taste tea. Along with learning how to taste tea students of course will be “cupping” teas from all over the world, from the ancient roots in China to the mountains of Darjeeling, hills of Japan, Kenya and so many more. This all takes place at the Glendale Campus sensory lab, located right in the heart of [what is informally known as] the “gastro-haven” of Ontario.


Shabnam Weber will be the instructor for these two courses and will bring her wealth of industry experience to every class. Shabnam is the head instructor and author of the TEA SOMMELIER® Program and also sits on the Board of Directors of the Tea Association of Canada.She looks forward to meeting with Niagara area tea lovers to help them begin their journey with tea.

Shabnam Weber Pic

TEA 101: Introduction to Tea
Monday, September 12, 19, 26, October 3
11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m

TEA 102: Regions of the World
Monday, September 12, 19, 26, October 3, 17, 24 (excluding October 10 for Thanksgiving)
3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

For more details and to register visit:


Consumer Demand for Health and Wellness Foods Continues to Drive Consumption of Tea

By Louise Pollock, President, Pollock Communications

Consumers have an unquenchable thirst for healthy foods and beverages that taste great.  Tea is the beverage of choice for many consumers as they search for ways to better their health by eating and drinking heathy foods and beverages.  Millennials (18 to 34) are more likely than Gen-Xers, Boomers or Traditionalists to drink tea to do something good for their body (47% vs. 41%).

While black tea is still the most consumed tea in the United States, a recent survey of 450 registered dietitians conducted by Today’s Dietitian and Pollock communications predicted that green tea was among the foods that will be trending upward in 2016.  Green tea has a strong connection to a healthy lifestyle and is often preferred by the Millennial generation.  Millennials are also more likely than older generation tea drinkers to consume green tea on the go (34% vs. 19%), on their commute (23% vs. 10%), at an event (19% vs. 10%), in nature (19% vs. 10%) or at a spa (12% vs. 7%).

Marketing and innovation in the industry continue to drive tea consumption. As consumer demand has grown, frequent innovation and the marketing of new products have helped keep tea top-of-mind for consumers, especially Millennials. New versions of tea-infused alcoholic beverage specialties, such as microbrews and cocktails that incorporate tea, have opened an entirely new, young market.  These new innovations ensure tea will have a place with younger generations of consumers and a solid future for the industry.

Join me at the North American Tea Conference, September 20-22 to learn more about tea consumption growth as a health food.

louise pollock pic.PNGLouise Pollock has more than 25 years of experience in the public relations profession helping clients develop and implement strategic marketing programs.  Throughout her career, Louise has concentrated on building partnerships between the private and public sectors.  She helps clients translate science into understandable messages for key target audiences and decision makers.  Louise has counseled a host of Fortune 500 companies and has worked extensively in issues management, crisis communications, media relations, media training and association member relations.



Steep competition: Driving growth in the tea category

By: Joel Gregoire, Senior Research Analyst Food & Drink at Mintel

Aside from water, there is no beverage that is more tied to human history than tea. It’s rooted in tradition with its popularity spanning across cultures. In Canada and the US, however, coffee is the predominant hot drink for consumers. The question is why, and what can tea do to leverage the success of coffee?

As is commonly understood, tea is strongly associated with health. When asked, nearly half of Canadian consumers agree that tea is healthier than coffee. By contrast, only one-in-25 agree that coffee is healthier than tea. Though findings point to health as being a key purchase driver across multiple categories, the benefit of tea’s superior health positioning appears to have limits.

With tea ‘owning’ health compared to coffee, opportunity exists to explore other areas of development and messaging in order to support category growth. It’s thus important for tea producers to identify easy opportunity areas when narrowing their focus. For instance, based on Mintel research, chilled ready-to-drink coffee holds stronger associations with being “innovative”, and while the tea category certainly boasts a broad innovation portfolio, by comparison it’s not an association consumers commonly make with tea. As such, rather than messaging against an association that chilled coffee “owns”, tea producers may find more success in investing in positioning around associations that neither category owns.

Ultimately, for tea to drive significant growth it will have to win share from other beverages with coffee being the obvious main competitor. That said, it’s not enough to just imitate coffee in an attempt to replicate the category’s success in recent years, rather tea must identify and exploit underdeveloped value propositions to innovate and message against.

Join me at the North American Tea Conference, September 20-22 to learn more about tea’s growth in the industry, and what it could mean for your company.

joel gregoire pic

Joel Gregoire researches and writes reports on the Canadian food and drink industry for Mintel. He comes to us after stops at NPD, Loblaw’s and OMD, where he amassed a breadth experience in the industry. Joel has a Bachelor’s Honours Co-op in Political Science and History from the University of Waterloo.



Tea-ing Up Trends for The Future

By: Marion Chan, Trend Spotter Consulting

Marketing to Millennials using just the key marketing principles of price, product, promotion and placement, also known as the four P’s, just doesn’t cut it any more.  Ensuring these four principles are well received is only the tip of the iceberg.  All consumer trends today stimulate one of the four new principles:  exclusivity, engagement, experience and emotion which is arguably the key element in any consumer marketing strategy. It is particularly crucial for commodity based products that are ubiquitous, in varying qualities and formats, to understand and ensure these four new marketing principles are included in their strategies.  This can become the basis of differentiation of one black tea bag from another.

tea minimalism

The only way to do this will be to know your consumer.  Knowing your consumer isn’t just about their gender, age and household demographics.  It’s the things that will make them happy?  Or make them cry?  What do they they aspire to?  Their hopes and dreams.  If you can tap into these emotional areas, you will create an image either for the category or a brand that will have people coming back for more.


In Tea-ing up Trends for the Future, I will touch on some high level areas that will provide you with some insight into the trends that will set the stage for further discussions.  The first step will be to understand what the four E’s are and why they are important. The second step will be to learn about the relevant trends that are associated with them and how they relate to tea.  Finally, and most importantly, what actions can the tea industry, as a collective, take away to be able to resonate with consumers, particularly the Millennials, that will lead to overall category growth.

Join me at the North American Tea Conference, September 20-22 to learn more about how you can work together as an industry to make the trends work for you.

Marion Chan PicMarion Chan is one of Canada’s leaders in watching consumer trends and analyzing the relevance of those trends to brands and retailing. She can tell you what’s happening and why it’s happening, but more importantly how it can impact your business and why you should care. Marion provides you with context so that you understand the real marketing challenge and can make the best, most informed decisions about how to marshal your resources.