This month, our Japanese distributor, Tominaga Boeki Kaisha Ltd. (TBK), celebrates its 100th anniversary and we wanted to mark this momentous milestone by sharing some highlights about the company and Ahmad Tea in Japan. We were delighted to be able to interview Shohei Tominaga, the President of TBK, to find out more about the business and their success story.

One of Ahmad Tea’s best sellers in Japan is our Earl Grey blend so if you are partial to a bergamot blend, pop the kettle on, brew a cup of the finest Earl Grey tea and enjoy learning more about the one of Ahmad Tea’s oldest business allies and now a firm friend in the tea world.

Firstly, many thanks Shohei san for taking time to share your story. Please could you tell us more about Tominaga Boeki Kaisha (TBK)?

It’s a pleasure to share our story with you. Our distribution business is based in the port city of Kobe which is on the southern coast of Japan’s main island. The company was founded by my great-grandfather and I am the 4th generation of  the Tominaga family. There are two pillars of our main business, one is import and the sales of high-quality foods and beverages from foreign countries. The other pillar is product development and distribution of affordable and popular food and beverages.

How will you celebrate the 100th anniversary?

We hosted a party in November and celebrated our 100 years together. It is also an important opportunity for us to reflect and think about what we can give back to society. As TBK and Ahmad Tea are both family businesses we often think about what legacy we’ll leave for future generations. Therefore, to mark our 100th year, we’ve offered 10 million yen (about 72,000 USD) to support essential repair work of Razavi cancer hospital in Sri Lanka, which Ahmad Tea designed and built years ago. We’re looking forward to visiting later this year.

Hishakshi san who founded the company in 1923. The Chairman of TBK, Akiyoshi san and President, Shohei san welcoming guests to their 100 years celebration in November.

How many years has TBK been working with Ahmad Tea in Japan?

In the 1990s Ahmad Tea had a reputation for selling high quality teas and we were one of the importers who sold the brand in the market.   In 2001, we entered into an agreement to become an official agent. Since then, TBK is the sole importer and wholesaler for AT in Japan.

What’s is the synergy between Ahmad Tea and TBK?

We share the same vision to offer high quality yet affordable (food and) beverages to consumers. TBK have a broad wholesale nationwide network from general supermarkets to specialty retailers which want to sell quality and unique products. We believe we are the best partner for Ahmad Tea whose tea is loved by wide range of consumers.

In recent years, we have created official social media accounts for Ahmad Tea in Japan. Ahmad Tea’s Japanese Instagram account now has 36,000 followers, which is impressive for our market share. Also, with Ahmad Tea’s global expertise we are implementing various new marketing activations.

Additionally, we have also created Ahmad Tea branded ready-to-drink products specifically for the Japanese market using Ahmad Tea’s decaf tea to increase brand awareness.

Please tell us about the growth of Ahmad Tea in Japan.

In Japan, although everyone is familiar with black tea, only a minority of people regularly brew black tea at home. To create more demand for black tea in Japan, TBK created a digital marketing campaign and organized in-store wet sampling. As soon as people taste the quality of Ahmad Tea, they become fans. Ahmad Tea’s Decaf tea bag products are proving to be very popular and have driven the growth in recent years. More recently, the Iced Tea Cold Brew range has become increasingly popular for its convenience and good taste.

 

What’s next?

As a longtime partner of Ahmad Tea, we would like to continue to reach even more Ahmad Tea fans, and to hopefully make enjoying a cup of tea a part of daily life for everyone.

Thank you very much for your time, Shohei san and for your company’s kind donation to the Razavi cancer hospital in Sri Lanka.

TBK’s head office in Kobe. The Tominaga family in the 1950’s. TBK and Ahmad Tea meet in Japan in 2019.

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