Temi tea garden is a government-run estate that has a plantation area of 440 acres in southern Sikkim.
Dr. Rahul Banerjee, Head - Corporate Governance, Temi Tea, spoke to BE’s Kuntala Sarkar.
Q. How is your company performing during the current financial year (FY 2019-20) being an organic tea producer?
A. Temi Tea is an organic tea garden in Sikkim, which is the only organic state in India. Labour and wage rates are the highest in our garden as compared to rest of the tea gardens in the country.
Temi Tea has been improving its year-on-year profit margin gradually. Our total sales in FY 2015-16 was Rs 468 lakhs, for FY 2016-17 it was Rs 438 lakhs, for FY 2017-18 it was `717.76 lakhs and sales in the last fiscal, which is FY 2018-19, was approximately Rs 850 lakhs. The sales increased by 64% over the previous year with increased efficiency of manufacturing optimisation and due to the overall streamlining of processes.
Q. Is your company only focusing on domestic market or expand in the export market?
A. Temi Tea’s export market spans the US and Canada in the north to Australia in the south with major sales in almost all of western Europe. But the volumes of export have not been phenomenal in terms of the percentage of our total production. We are also participating in all major global tea conferences that include the ones in Las Vegas in the US, Colombo in Sri Lanka, Beijing and World Tea Union at Hangzhou in China and in trade fairs in France and Italy. Additionally, we have recently inked important deals in Hamburg and Munich in Germany. The patents and trademark of Temi was registered with the trade mark body of the central government to ensure that the brand was not misused by anyone else in the world with a strong legal team employed to keep a watch on safeguarding the brand and its global presence. It is worth mentioning that India is ranked fourth in terms of tea exports, which reached 256.92 million kgs during 2017-18 and was valued at $800 million. Going forward, Temi plans to earmark a major portion of its signature production for exports. The objective is not only to ensure pivotal pricing but also to warrant and secure a major market.
Q. What are the exclusive varieties of tea offered by your company?
A. Exclusive offerings of our company include Temi Tea Special, Temi Tea Broken, Green Tea, Wooden Caddy, Temi Tea First Flush, Temi Tea Spring Caddy, Temi Tea Summer Caddy, Temi Tea Monsoon Caddy, Temi Tea Autumn Caddy, and Sikkim Solja Tea. We are also offering loose long leaf and fanning teas. Our black tea was among the 130 worldwide samples that were submitted in the Boseong World Tea Championship in 2019. We also took the risk of showcasing our autumnal teas and stood second and won the silver medal. We have also professionally proliferated and encouraged diversification into other segments of the market such as value-added teas.
Q. Temi Tea is highly based on organic manures that can trim the cost of chemical fertilisers. But how is production cost affected due to the use of organic manures?
A. We use organic manure and that entail keeping and restoring soil fertility. Re-plantation and rejuvenation includes a lot of capital cost. The expense on production rises for obtaining organic certifications from various bodies. Our production facilities are gearing up to a commitment to not use coal based driers. Increased capital costs on electrical heaters have ensured less of coal particles in tea. Ensuring an organic end-to-end production schedule including all direct and indirect costs, raises the cost of production.