Tata Tea is putting in place a strategy to increase its global footprints and also shed its tag as a company restricted to black tea only. Tata Tea Vice Chairman RK Krishna Kumar talks about the company’s plans in an interview with Jaidev Majumdar. Excerpts:
What is Tata Tea’s global roadmap?
We have moved to the UK and right after acquiring Tetley, we have moved east to Czechoslovakia and Poland. But the most exciting market for us is the US and we will focus on the market with new and exciting varieties of tea. We have learnt from our presence in the US with the acquisition of Glaceau in August 2006. We will explore our opportunities in the beverages segment as well.
Which are the other important markets for Tata Tea?
Apart from the US, Russia is another important market for us and also the CIS countries, which are gradually becoming more profitable, wealthier and switching on to the European mode with distinct affinity towards European products. We will be setting up a pathbreaking venture in Russia, which will cater to Ukraine and Kazakhstan markets as well.
The third area for us will be China and we are exploring joint venture possibilities there as well. The China venture will cater to sophisticated products like green tea extracts and polyphenol that are linked to wellness. Once we have established ourselves there, we will perhaps look at the far east like Japan and also South America.
Can you elaborate on your Russian venture?
The model in Russia will include tea, soluble and freeze dried coffee, value added tea, Sri Lankan tea. Our plan is to set up a value-added process in Russia via the joint venture, which will help us cater to exports from there as well.
When will this plan be ready?
I cannot put a timeline to it but the initial structure should be ready fairly soon. We are talking to potential partners for the Russian venture and the quantum of investment is yet to be decided. We will have more than one partner there and we will also explore opportunities to acquire certain companies there. Market research work and market analysis is currently on. By the end of the current fiscal our new entity in Russia should be complete.