Kolkata, Nov 23 (The Street Press India) – Coca-Cola, the big soda company, is teaming up with the well-known Makaibari tea estate in Darjeeling. They’re joining forces to introduce ready-to-drink iced green tea in India, making their mark in the world of healthy drinks.
Coke will be selling the packaged drink under the ‘Honest Tea’ brand, which they acquired a few years back in the US. They aim to get the organic green tea solely from Makaibari, known as one of the best teas from Darjeeling.
If this partnership works out, it could really boost the Darjeeling tea industry, which is struggling to find innovative ways to sell its tea due to declining demand. With Coca-Cola’s strong marketing and distribution power, it has the potential to attract a broader audience, particularly health-conscious young customers.
Currently, Coca-Cola is introducing the drink in the southern and western states, with plans to expand nationwide during the summer of 2024. The anticipated price for a 350-ml bottle is Rs 50. The company has unveiled two tea variants so far: lemon-tulsi and mango.
Karthik Subramanian, Director of Marketing for Hydration, Coffee, and Tea at Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia, expressed excitement, stating, “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.”
The formal announcement of the alliance took place on the second day of the Bengal Global Business Summit in Calcutta. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Rudra Chatterjee, the director of Luxmi Tea, which owns the Makaibari tea estate, were present for the announcement.
In a statement, Rudra Chatterjee emphasized Makaibari’s significance, stating, “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”.
The bottle will prominently showcase the Makaibari brand, highlighting it as the source of the organic green tea. This product will be a co-branded collaboration.
Luxmi Tea has been expanding through e-commerce, modern trade, and exclusive retail outlets at domestic airports. The partnership with Coca-Cola is expected to provide Luxmi Tea with an extensive reach, a unique opportunity that only a few players in the beverage industry can offer.
Darjeeling boasts approximately 87 protected gardens with Geographic Identification tags, collectively yielding an annual tea production of 6.5 million kg.
Honest Tea was initially owned by American businessman Seth Goldman, who co-founded the company in 1998 alongside his former Yale business professor Barry Nalebuff. CEO Goldman, a Harvard graduate, also authored the book “Mission in a Bottle.”
The Coca-Cola Company acquired a 40% stake in Honest Tea for $43 million in 2008 and later bought the remaining shares in 2011. In 2009, Honest Tea gained notable recognition when The New York Times reported it as President Barack Obama’s preferred beverage. Although Coke discontinued the brand in the US by the end of December 2022, it seems to be making a comeback in India.