Greek company Anassa Organics sees success with herbal teas in Japan

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The brand works with its Japanese partner Kanazawa Daichi and has seen sales double to around 3,000 in the first quarter of 2022 since entering the market in January 2021.

In total, the Japanese company managed to sell 8,500 units of Anassa herbal tea in Japan.

About 90% was in sachet form, while the remaining 10% was in box form, said executive director Motomu Sugano.

“We aim to sell more (Anassa tea products) in Japan and try to boost sales. Compared to Europe and America, the organic market in Japan is small. However, it is easy to present Anassa because consumers understand its quality,”Sugano said.

Anassa Organics Export Manager Chrisoula Sotiriou said the secret to entering the APAC market, especially Japan with its strict regulations, is patience and the right partner.

“We have to be patient and have the right partner. The tea market in Japan is developing and has potential. We are happy and honoured, and it is a relief to have them (Kanazawa Daichi) as our partner,”said Sotiriou.

A singular gesture

The two companies made waves in late 2020 when they announced an exclusive distribution agreement to retail premium Anassa tea products in Japan.

Consumers can purchase the herbal teas from the Kanazawa Daichi website, department stores and supermarket chains, primarily as gifts for special occasions such as Christmas.

Anassa Organics, founded in 2013 in Athens, exports 60% of its products, while 40% is destined for domestic sales.

Its various whole leaf tea blends include 15 herbs, such as carob, mint, lemon balm, sage, chamomile and fennel. The herbs are sourced from six suppliers spread across swaths of Greek horticultural land.

Before that, Anassa successfully entered 18 markets, such as Russia, Australia, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong.

Its ability to penetrate multiple markets was perhaps due to its consistency in maintaining the Greek wording wherever it goes.

“We will not localize our labeling and product, so we will not mix with Japanese herbs. We will stick to our unique Greek herbal formulation,” said Sotiriou.

Meanwhile, Kanazawa Daichi is an organic farm that produces and sells about 150 products, such as rice, vegetables, sauces, drinks, and wheat flour. The Anassa range of herbal teas is its first imported product.

As hoped, the Greek herbal tea concept fit well with Japanese culture, Sotiriou said, noting that the two companies have a similar customer base.

Sugano added: “When I presented Anassa at trade shows, the attendees would say ‘Kawaii!’ and appreciate its packaging.The design is well accepted in Japan.

Branding Partners

Kanazawa Daichi is currently developing a new gift set specific to Japanese consumers, primarily women in their late 20s to 40s and health-conscious older men in their 40s and 50s. Sugano also actively exhibits Anassa at various trade shows in Japan.

The Japanese team is even considering importing glass cups from Greece to improve the consumer experience of how Anassa sells its teas in the domestic market.

Initially, the partnership aimed to optimize the culture of giving and the ritual experience. The teas are accompanied by filters and wooden stirrers – an experience that Sotiriou compared to the various fine arts and Japanese culture.

According to Sugano, the new gift box only includes sachets and costs ¥2,500 ($20). Before that, the normal gift set included tea in boxes and cost ¥4,000 to ¥5,000 ($32 to $40).

“The new sachet gift set is a simpler and more affordable gift for family occasions, such as visiting relatives and weddings. We will be targeting the upcoming wedding season, which will take place in June,”added Sugano.

Unique boiling points

Anassa’s main objective is to grow without compromising product quality.

She gave the example of the Netherlands, which has 250 stores offering Anassa teas.

“We need more suppliers to meet this demand. The materials of the organic scene are rare. Being organic also means that we have to repeatedly test products for heavy metals and make sure they are clean.

“Therefore, we are working with various suppliers across Greece and urging them to switch from conventional to organic horticulture,”she added.

She is currently reviewing opportunities in China by assessing regulatory requirements.

Sugano and his team aim to sell about 20,000 units in Japan this year, including through the Hankyu department store in Osaka, the Kanazawa Daichi store at Kanazawa Station, and its online store. They also target Japanese bigwigs like Isetan and Takashimaya to carry Anassa.

Sotiriou said: “For 2022, all of our efforts will be channeled into Japan, such as the new gift set and collaborations. It is (a) doable (achievement).

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