Mighty Leaf Tea Launches 3 Foodservice Brands

Photo courtesy of Mighty Leaf Tea Company

Mighty Leaf Tea Co. now offers a tri-tiered program with three distinct brands to serve its foodservice customers by sector. Foodservice always has been the largest part of Mighty Leaf’s business, comprising about two-thirds of its revenue. Founded in 1996, Mighty Leaf Tea was not sold in grocery stores until 2007. “Mighty Leaf is sold in about 20,000 different points of distribution, so it’s really broad in the U.S. and internationally,” said Tom Smallhorn, chief marketing officer at Mighty Leaf. “Over the last two years, we’ve had double digit growth each year.”

The multitiered brand strategy addresses market fragmentation by providing three product lines for different foodservice clients.

“I think the challenge for any brand today is that it’s an increasingly fragmented market with many small companies that are increasingly successful,” Smallhorn said. “I think what we’re seeing is an increased need for customization. Restaurants are looking for teas that are exclusive to their account. Hotels and foodservice are looking to differentiate from each other.” added Smallhorn.

Mighty Leaf’s top foodservice brand, Tea and Company, is a new 100 percent premium line exclusively for high-end restaurants and hospitality where boutique offerings are especially valued. The entire line is organic. “The cost is a little higher and some of the teas are restricted in the quality they can produce every year,” said Mighty Leaf’s tea master, Eliot Jordan. “We decided with Tea and Company, which is our best line, that that is OK.” Tea and Company won several top scores in the 2017 Global Tea Championship. The Organic Earl Grey Crème won 3rd Place in the Black Flavored Bagged Tea category and the Orgnic Royal Passion Fruit Green won 2nd Place in the Green Flavored Bagged Tea category. Three other teas also garnered top scores. The Tea and Company line has 12 teas.

The intermediate brand, Mighty Leaf Tea, is the company’s long-established brand presented in a new way. The Mighty Leaf Tea that is designated for foodservice is being sold in a hand-stitched pouch and cannot be purchased in grocery stores. This line is intended for hospitality, lodging, casual dining and office beverage service. The Mighty Leaf line has 24 teas.

The final brand, Origins by Mighty Leaf, is the company’s value line that targets in-room hotel tea service, banquets, catering and fast casual. This line uses fannings grade tea. “Most brands that use fannings tea are much bigger than Mighty Leaf and cannot be selective at all,” Jordan said. “We’re much smaller than the big commercial brands. We need fannings tea, but we can be more selective about the teas. Mostly it’s: which farm did it come from and which season did it come from? In a sense, we’re just as selective with our Origins level tea as we are with our Tea and Company line.” The Origins line has seven teas.

The Tea and Company line recently became available on Mighty Leaf’s website. Origins is currently exclusively available in foodservice.

Jordan also stressed the importance of proper tea preparation and waitstaff education to ensure tea’s success at full-service restaurants. “That really elevates the tea to a high level,” Jordan said.

Additionally, Mighty Leaf launched an iced tea program with 10 better-quality teas at a more aggressive price point than those the company offered in the past. Iced tea occupies the biggest section of the foodservice category. “Within our foodservice portfolio, it’s about 25 percent of what we sell,” Smallhorn said. The iced tea is available in filtered bags and fractional packets for fresh brewing.

“We feel like we have a broad offering that should appeal to every account,” Smallhorn said.

Future plans for Mighty Leaf include innovations with matcha and turmeric.