Aloha! The Hawaii Tea CoOp was established in 2016 to figure out a solution to a big challenge in the world of tea.
Challenge: Small tea farmers are unable to create a sustainable business in a world increasingly dominated by multinationals.
The story: Jason McDonald, part of a five generation tree farming business in Mississippi, took the reins of the family business, just as Hurricane Katrina wiped out 75% of the tree farm. Jason decided, it was time to find a crop that would not be wiped out by a hurricane.
Jason found tea. Hurricane proof. Harvestable from the fifth year. No need to replant for 100+ years. The world’s second most consumer beverage after water. Yet, only one 60 acre commercial tea farm operating in the United States.
Jason contacted Nigel Melican, a global tea business consultant, and they designed a 10 acre tea farm in Mississippi.
Jason began traveling the world of tea, talking with farmers around the world, and learned that small tea farmers, had big challenges surviving in an industry becoming dominated by multinational companies.
Jason submitted his first tea batches from his Mississippi farm in the first U.S. tea judging competition held in Volcano Village, Hawaii in 2015. During his first visit to Hawaii, he understood that the climate and culture of Hawaii were much better suited for growing tea, plus having a chance to spend part of the year in Hawaii was appealing.
Grif Frost, a serial entrepreneur, who with his wife Noriko, had started, built and sold 40+ businesses in Japan, Oregon and Hilo, Hawaii was tracking Jason’s posts about tea on FaceBook, and suggested they connect.
Takeshi Akatsuka, with his wife Corinne, were taking over the family orchid nursery business in Volcano Village. Grif was working with them to help them develop an LQ (Life Quality) business. Grif introduced Takeshi to Jason.
During talk story sessions, they all realized they could help solve a big challenge in the world of tea: how to help small tea farmers thrive, by developing an innovative cooperative business. The Hawaii Tea CoOp was born.
Hawaii Island is known as being a Global Showroom for businesses to introduce new products to their customers. The Hawaii Tea CoOp was set-up to become a showroom for innovative solutions for the world of tea.
Every February, the Hawaii Tea CoOp hosts the Global Tea Innovation Symposium, where innovations in the world of tea are presented.
In February 2017, the theme was the formation of an innovative consumer cooperative business model. The owners of the Hawaii CoOp model, are the producers, the processors, the resellers, the end consumers, the venders and everyone else who supports the mission of growing tea.
To learn more about how to become an owner in the Hawaii Tea CoOp, or start your own Hawaii CoOp model,outside of Hawaii, please contact us.
A secondary theme, was how small tea farms could move from hand labor to using automated machines.
Challenge: Many small tea farms use hand labor, not machines. A small tea farm could not afford to buy or use machines cost effectively.
Opportunity: If the small tea farmers owned a cooperative business which bought the machines, they could share the machines.
The president of the leading Japanese manufacturer of tea farm machinery joined the symposium.
The third theme, was a presentation by Nigel Melican, on global innovations in the world of tea.
In February 2018, the symposium is focused on showing how small tea farms can be developed together in a tea farm community, sharing knowledge and equipment together, through their Hawaii CoOp model.
To learn more about how you can become an owner in a small tea farm community in Hawaii, please contact the Hawaii Tea CoOp.
The second theme is a presentation by Nigel Melican, on global innovations in the world of tea.
Future symposiums will focus on innovations in tea processing and sales.