World Tea Expo managers are seeking new speakers and topics for the June 2019 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Those who have knowledge of and experience in the tea industry are encouraged to submit proposals by the October 1, 2018 deadline.
Education is an integral part of the World Tea Expo. A survey of 249 attendees revealed 57.4 percent felt the education component was a very important or critical factor in their decision to attend the expo and 55.4 percent felt the same regarding attending educational sessions.
“Education is an important part of any business and there is something new to learn every day,” said Michael Chaffey, Education Committee member and director of sales the Metropolitan Tea Co. in Toronto, Canada. “The tea business is evolving all of the time so it is important to maintain an open mind to capture the changing face of the tea market. The World Tea Expo is a good venue to capture some of the complexities of the tea world.”
There will be seven educational tracks: Diverse Tea Business Topics; Marketing & Retailer Skills; Trends & Opportunities; Culinary, Hospitality, Food Service; Herbals Current Issues: Fireside Chats; Tea Science, Technical, Regulatory; and the Social, Ethical, Environmental track.
Conference leaders will conduct the initial review of proposal submissions. Then, the Education Committee will do another evaluation and select speakers and topics to fill the educational tracks. “We try to have fresh voices on a regular basis,” Chaffey said. “There are a lot of new people in the tea industry and there are a lot of fresh voices bringing fresh ideas to the business and new perspectives.”
Regarding education topics, Chaffey would like to see more emphasis on ready-to-drink teas, functional teas, botanicals, tea as an ingredient and tea as a beverage for food service or cocktails. He spoke of the number of new tea beverage ideas that have emerged in the marketplace and of how botanicals are becoming more prevalent. “The industry is much broader than it was,” Chaffey said.
He added, every year attendees’ interests vary, so attendee feedback from 2018 will be taken into consideration to make sure the expo is in alignment with people’s interests.
Chaffey suggested a couple of topic ideas; one of which being a course presenting a layman’s approach to regulatory issues in the tea industry regarding labeling and food safety. “Most speakers of regulatory issues tend to be government officials or customs agents who speak in government acronyms, so it’s good to have somebody who speaks on a more grounded level that people can understand.” He also feels the educational sessions are a good place to educate people on the difference between a conventional bagged tea and specialty tea.
The Education Committee’s goal is to provide a competent, valuable education to people. “Even for the most learned people, there’s always something to learn,” Chaffey said.
Speakers’ requirements can be found online here. Those whose proposals have been chosen will be contacted on or before December 1, 2018.