Luxmi Tea eyes to dominate international D2C market

100 years old brand produces 28 million kg tea per annum with 25 estates in India & Africa
Luxmi Tea eyes to dominate international D2C market
Luxmi Tea, an exclusive made in India brand that according to the Luxmi Group shares likes of Queen Elizabeth II.Photo - Luxmi Group

India produces some of the best teas globally owing to its unique geographical indications, continuous innovation in improved infrastructure and steady demand from buyers worldwide. The main tea-growing regions in the Northeast are Assam, Tripura, Darjeeling district, Dooars, and Teria. In the southern part of India, Nilgiris also significantly contributes to the production of tea. According to surveys, Indians love tea and consume almost 75% of the tea produced in the country. As of 2019 estimates, India was the second-largest tea producer in the world with a production of 1,340 million kgs.

Luxmi Group, established in 1912, a premium tea brand, promises to deliver a cup of tea with serenity. The brand is a 28 million kg tea producer with 25 tea estates in Assam, West Bengal, and Tripura in India and Rwanda in Africa. Luxmi Group also owns one of India's largest and oldest tea estates - Makaibari, founded in 1859 which is also the home to the world's first tea factory. With 28 million kilos of tea produced each year, Luxmi has positioned itself to be among the largest tea-producing companies in India. Almost 90% of its produce is sold through public tea auctions to a wide range of buyers.

Pluckers plucking first flush from tea gardens
Pluckers plucking first flush from tea gardensPhoto - Luxmi Group

According to Rudra Chatterjee, managing director, Luxmi Group of Companies, chairman Makaibari Tea, the Group has consistently produced the finest quality teas. Hence, the emphasis remained on procuring the best tea estates be in Assam, Darjeeling, or Rwanda. The estates in Rwanda - Gisovu, Pfunda, and Rugabano consistently fetch the highest tea prices in the Rwandan tea auction. He says, "We own some of the most prestigious estates in the North and South Bank regions of Assam, gardens which are renowned for their strong CTC teas, the finest green tea, and best orthodox teas. Makaibari in Darjeeling is a biodynamic tea estate that produces the world's most iconic teas among ancient forests in the Himalayas and also produces a rare, cosmic tea harvested on full moon nights as the planets align."

Luxmi Tea has been judicious in its acquisition of tea estates and has ensured that only plantations that focus on quality, environment, and ethics are added to its portfolio. There are several estates whose produce is booked ahead of its harvest. According to Chatterjee, tea production has increased from 15 million kilos to 28 million kilos due to these procurements.

Rudra Chatterjee, managing director, Luxmi Group of Companies, chairman Makaibari Tea
Rudra Chatterjee, managing director, Luxmi Group of Companies, chairman Makaibari Tea

Processing facilities

The world's oldest tea factory can be found at Makaibari, made entirely from cast iron and wood and strictly follows only organic tea production. Chatterjee adds, "Our factory in Manu Valley Tea Estate makes more than 3 million kgs of tea each year. It is one of the largest and most modern factories in the world. There are 10 CTC machines now in a state-of-the-art "online factory". The factory and infrastructure in all of Luxmi Tea's estates have seen a tremendous change under our stewardship."

Chatterjee mentioned that upgrading technology and machinery at the factories had afforded more output to the estates. However, he feels that the role of technology in the tea industry has primarily been limited to the tea factories, such as state of the art tea manufacturing and sorting machinery that churn out the most meticulously produced teas. He says, "The introduction of online tea bagging and tea packet packing machines at the tea estates has been a game-changer for the tea industry as it allows producers to pack their teas within the shortest possible time after the teas have been manufactured.

Luxmi owns some of the most prestigious estates in the North and South Bank regions of Assam, gardens which are renowned for their strong CTC teas, the finest green tea, and best orthodox teas.
Luxmi owns some of the most prestigious estates in the North and South Bank regions of Assam, gardens which are renowned for their strong CTC teas, the finest green tea, and best orthodox teas. Photo - Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

According to him, the shift of Outcry auction to an eAuction system in April 2009 was a good move. However, he feels that there is a need for on-field operations to keep pace with mechanization processes such as spraying and plucking followed in other industries.

Authenticity and provenance are driving factors in the tea industry as consumers today have access to more information than ever before and are very conscious about the quality and freshness of their teas. Chatterjee adds, "We have the advantage of being able to pack freshly harvested and processed teas at our estates and ship those teas directly to our customers. We empower our customers with transparency on how our products are made, their impact on pluckers, the surrounding community, the environment, and much more. The priority for Luxmi Tea is to make our tea offerings a global D2C brand to reckon with!"

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