The shape of Finlays' tea business has noticeably changed over the last few years, following the sale of our Sri Lankan tea farms in 2021 and the sale of our Kenyan tea farms that just finalized. These decisions might have give one the impression that Finlays is moving away from its “Bush to Cup” proposition in tea. While our business is less focused on directly owning and operating tea farms, our “Bush to Beverage” proposition is central to how we deliver differentiated solutions.
After all, this concept offers powerful benefits to us, our customers and our suppliers, including supply chain visibility, cost and service efficiencies, as well as a sustainable, end-to-end supply, which can make a positive impact down to the farm level for both tea and coffee.
Bush to Beverage… But Different
But we are now approaching our “Bush to Beverage” capability differently. In today’s fast paced and ever-evolving beverage industry, integrated supply chains are increasingly vital for companies to stay competitive. They are also evolving from linear models to collaborative ecosystems, offering improved efficiency, cost savings and enhanced customer satisfaction. Future supply chains will embrace real-time data sharing, advanced analytics and automation, empowering faster decision making and agile operations. And this is a journey Finlays is embarking on, too.
These ecosystems, driven by the need for agility and sustainability, are reshaping global value chains such as ours at Finlays, particularly as we increase our focus on tea and coffee extracts.We are mobilizing our end-to-end value chain for improvement-focused collaboration and partnership development all the way from “Bush to Beverage.” This starts with sourcing tea and coffee raw materials from origin through manufacturing and ending with us delivering finished extracts to our regional and multi-national beverage brand customers, retailers and foodservice operators.
So what does the future of "Bush to Beverage" look like for Finlays?
Collaboration for Resilient Supply Chains: Ecosystem Development
Collaboration with supply and service partners is paramount to achieving seamless integration and resilience. We have nurtured strong strategic relationships with our ecosystem partners – such as raw material suppliers, contract manufacturers, packers and logistics providers – across continents and country borders. With performance management and continuous improvement, we strive to enhance efficiency, minimize disruptions and deliver high quality and consistent products. Together, we can optimize processes, synchronize inventory levels and leverage shared insights to drive growth and mitigate supply chain risks.
Navigating the Changing Landscape: Embracing Regional Integration
The future of supply chains is being shaped by the increasing recognition of the benefits of regional integration. The beverage industry is witnessing a shift towards reshoring and collaboration within closer geographic proximity. This move is driven by several factors, including the desire for sustainability, reduced lead times, enhanced collaboration with local partners and improved responsiveness to customer demands.
As companies embrace regional integration, they can achieve a range of advantages. Proximity to suppliers and customers allows for shorter supply chains, leading to reduced transportation costs and carbon emissions. Closer collaboration fosters stronger relationships with local partners, enabling shared insights, faster decision making and improved supply chain visibility.
A key example of this at Finlays is Casa Fuentes, our Argentine tea farm business, which plays a central role in growing tea used to create differentiated tea extracts and solutions, which are sold into the high-growth North American market for bottled and dispensed iced teas. In collaboration with our beverage brand customers, we’ve developed and supply products that source the leaf tea raw material from Casa Fuentes, for both extract manufacturing and solution packing with strategic supplier partners – both in the region and closer to the end customers. We’ve also streamlined those product and information flows through supplier continuous improvement and supply chain optimization in planning and logistics.
Navigating the Challenges: Robust Supplier Relationships
While the path towards regional integration holds promise, it is not without challenges. Companies must strengthen supplier risk management, adapt to regional regulatory frameworks, and build resilient partnerships. Robust supplier relationships, risk mitigation strategies and flexibility are essential to navigate these challenges successfully and build sustainable supply chains at every level.
Fortunately, Finlays has a strong track record in this. We were an early pioneer of the direct trade model in coffee and, today, we hold close and trusted relationships with coffee growers around the world. Our unique approach offers customers the benefits of a “Bush to Beverage” model with price risk mitigation, traceability and transparency, and consistency of supply. We are increasingly adopting this model for sourcing tea. At the same time, we can still offer customers the same benefits of our “Bush to Beverage” supply chains, while having a smaller footprint in owning tea farms and instead holding close and trusted relationships with tea growers and suppliers.
Supply chain industry experts have highlighted the significance of regional integration and reshaping supply chains, with real-world examples and case studies that demonstrate the benefits of proximity for operational efficiency and effectiveness. The concepts of off-shoring, near-shoring and friend-shoring are giving way to closer collaborations and sustainable practices with suppliers who can offer relevant competitive advantage at global, regional or national levels in the quest for agility and resilience.
The Future of Bush to Beverage
Looking to the future, enhancing our supplier relationship management process – for both tea and coffee suppliers – is a core focus for our sustainable supply strategy. We’ve widened our commitment beyond traceability to encompass the significance of social, economic and environmental practices across our supplier base. We’re pursuing supplier continuous improvement projects for mutual benefit and working across our businesses to enable stronger performance and development, which can ultimately benefit our entire ecosystem.
Leveraging regional and global integration selectively across the value chain enables companies to achieve sustainability targets, reduce costs and enhance customer satisfaction. By addressing challenges – such as supplier risk management and regulatory compliance – Finlays can focus on helping beverage brand owners navigate this changing landscape successfully. Ultimately, reshaping supply chains for a sustainable future will pave the way for stronger partnerships, reduced environmental impact and the delivery of exceptional products and solutions.
Jenny Yao Harrison is the group supply chain director for James Finlay Limited, responsible for developing and implementing global strategy and capabilities focused on customer service, supply chain planning, logistics (warehousing and transport) and procurement. Harrison joined Finlays in 2018 from The Coca-Cola Company, where her career covered positions across supply chain and innovation and R&D, including assignments in the United States and China. In her Asia Pacific roles, she led product category and innovation development to accelerate global and regional agility to launch new products. She holds a master’s degree in business administration from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.
Plan to Attend or Participate in World Tea Expo, March 18-20, 2024
To learn about other key developments, trends, issues, hot topics and products within the global tea community, plan to attend World Tea Expo, March 18-20, 2024 in Las Vegas, co-located with Bar & Restaurant Expo. Visit WorldTeaExpo.com.
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