QTrade Teas & Herbs Hires Kingsley Alagaratnam as New Vice President

A 35-year tea industry veteran, Kingsley Alagaratnam says beverage companies that move immediately and re-position their product portfolios to embrace tea can commercially capture the market and lead the massive tea growth and trends. Alagaratnam, former manager of North American leaf tea sales at Finlay Tea Solutions, is the newly appointed Senior Vice President at QTrade Teas & Herbs. QTrade is the largest supplier of organic teas in North America, serving major tea brands, tea retailers, coffee roasters, foodservice and bottled drink brands.

Kingsley 1“The North American specialty tea market is growing at a rapid pace, and the innovative beverage companies that move early and effectively with tea will increase market share,” says Alagaratnam, who joined the QTrade executive team Oct. 1.

“Multinational beverage brands are further realizing the big profit potential in the tea segment—and they are willing to invest,” explains Alagaratnam. “These brands see a strong future in tea with specialty tea as the fastest growing segment, rising at an estimated 8 to 10 percent annually. And while there are certainly healthy margins for all to glean, the key is to act quickly.”

According to Alagaratnam, tea investments, mergers and acquisitions fueling tea retail during the past 18 months reached an unprecedented $1 billion. Thus, in his new management role at QTrade, Alagaratnam will support the dramatic growth as the company continues to offer the beverage industry the required scale, stability and quality controls that are in use by the largest manufacturers today. In fact, QTrade’s new state-of-the art facility blends up to 40,000 pounds of tea a day, packs 100,000+ iced tea bags and inventories more than two million pounds of teas and herbs for the beverage industry.

“QTrade continues to expand its investment in expertise and manufacturing infrastructure to meet the needs of the global specialty tea industry,” notes founder and CEO Manik Jayakumar. “We are excited that Kingsley will help us continue to link the craft and innovation that is central to the growing specialty tea experience.”

QTrade President Manjiv Jayakumar says, “Kingsley’s deep technical expertise in tea procurement, manufacturing and blend design is accompanied by a broad understanding of the global tea market—a combination essential to his effectiveness in working with the beverage industry.”

At the Toronto, Ontario division of Finlays, one of the largest independent tea traders in the world, Alagaratnam led North American leaf tea sales, supplying national accounts and multinational bottled and hot/iced tea brands. Prior to his role at Finlays, Alagaratnam built a long and distinguished career with Unilever, one of the world’s leading suppliers of food, home and personal care products in more than 190 countries. At Unilever, Alagaratnam built wide-ranging experience developing and managing large scale and intricate tea supply chains that serviced brands across Africa and the Middle East.

Watch a video interview with Alagaratnam here.

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North American tea sales are projected to reach $8.3 billion in 2014, according to market research firm Packaged Facts, Tea and Ready-to-Drink Tea in the U.S., 4th Edition. Consumer tea purchases have increased for 21 consecutive years, according to the Tea Association of the USA. And specialty tea sales exceeded commodity tea sales in Canada in 2011 and in 2012, outpacing regular tea in sales dollar volume, per the Tea Association of Canada.

Visit QTrade at: World Tea East, Oct. 20-22, Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA.; or World Tea Expo, May 29 – 31, Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, CA.

SOURCE: QTrade Teas & Herbs

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