In The News

Price Increase April 5th, 2021

 

It has been with a sense of reluctance that we felt it necessary to have a price increase at this point in the covid epidemic. Please accept our apologies; but regretfully we are being subjected to a multitude of increases from so many directions that it has become a necessity. We are so thankful for your support and our ability to meet your needs during the last 12 months. It has been a tremendous relief to all stakeholders (from the estates to our clients’ place of business.  Thank you in advance for your understanding.

 

Here are the some of the issues that we considered for the price increase:

i) Our tea and herb growers are raising prices. Primarily due to Covid related expenses, but there are some country specific issues as well.

ii) Demand for luxury quality has grown significantly during the pandemic. This is applying demand pressure at the beginning of the growing season (growers are reacting accordingly).

iii) International shipping has become a nightmare. Fewer ships but at full capacity, resulting in a lack of cargo space. Waiting time for space on a ship is now between 3-10 weeks, notwithstanding ocean freight rates are higher compared to 6 months ago (50-200% up) and/or freight premiums demanded in correlation to the length of the wait for space.

iv) General increases from domestic suppliers as they attempt to recoup pandemic losses.

 

Metro’s Action Plan

a) April 5th, 2021 we will be instituting a 2.25 % increase, more or less across the board.

b) From April to August, we will review pricing on a product-by-product basis, as by that time we will have all our 2021 crop contracts with growers fully in place (or already delivered) and the true effects of the global turmoil on us will be known.

c) September 2021 we will adjust prices in accordance to cost inputs as identified in our April to August review. (This means some items may go up a bit more, some will remain unchanged, and some may decline).

 

Price Protection Plan

g) Between now and April 4th, 2021 you can place forward orders for shipping by July 2nd, 2021 and retain the current prices.

h) For the September review, you can place orders after April 4th with delivery before December 31st, 2021 and retain the prices following the April 4th, 2021 increase.  

 

 

Thank you for your continued support,

The Metropolitan TEAm

January 16, 2021 – COVID Update:

Covid continues to be a challenge. Most recently the Province of Ontario (where our main production facility is created) has issued a ‘Stay at Home’ order. Since we are a Food Manufacturing facility, we are allowed to remain open.

For us the result is we continue to work 2 shifts (production) and 1 shift on the office. Work stations are more than the prescribed social distance, we have a mandatory mask policy, 2 daily facility sterilizations of touch points, temperature take on arrival (over 37.7 ‘C, immediately leave and get tested), oximeter testing (95 or under immediately leave and get tested). In addition, we have had 7 company mandated tests since December 1 (the clinic comes to Metro Tea) and will have private tests the moment we feel there is a need.

Throughout the upheaval and anxious moments, we have not missed a beat on production, shipping fulfillment and sales.

 

Demand

Traditionally, January and February are our slower months (note we used the term ‘Traditionally). In spite of this tradition, we are seeing demand similar to pre-Christmas – clearly very good tea and the health aspects of really good tea, is resonating with our clients’ customers.

 

Shipping and Order Fulfillment  

Depending upon the day, we are experiencing normal order preparation times. Nothing that we can’t handle. Despite serious ongoing issues throughout the USA, orders are flowing well.

 

Pricing

On April 1st we need to institute an interim price increase – likely in the range of 1.75 to 2.25%. We are experiencing a general increase in raw material costs from virtually all growing countries and general operational costs. Perhaps the craziest increase has to do with ocean shipping. As an example – The shipping cost from China to Toronto is normally $3500-$4200 per 40’er. Due to the wild demand from on line retailers and PPE, we are seeing prices range between $8,800 and $14,500. There are insufficient empty containers at the origins shipping points, container terminals are severely backed-up due to covid protocol, and North America is not exporting at the same rate it is importing. Additionally, UPS passed on a price increase to us about 3 months ago.

We will be doing an in-depth pricing review during July/August and will adjust prices accordingly. We hope by then some of this current madness will have simmered down and a modicum of normalcy has returned giving us predictable cost stability.

 

Global Supply Chain

Our supply chain remains strong. We have experienced some delays (generally covid related in source countries) but our large raw material safety stock levels ‘carried us across the threshold’ so to speak.

Within the last 2-8 weeks we have pre-booked crop contracts (for 2021 crop year) with most growers, paid deposits (many require the money to buy seeds for the spring planting). We can expect to see these raw materials arriving at our main facility between August 2021 to March 2022 (Yes! We do have to think that far ahead!!)

 

Please help us with planning: Whilst we have been aggressive in our forecasting (due to the high demand since end September and not seeing the traditional ‘January let-up’ – if you foresee significant demand on a narrow range of items, we would appreciate a ‘heads-up’. Your demand could cause an ‘outlier’ in our demand forecasting algorithms.

 

Marketing Idea

One of our clients has been using our DIY CATALOG feature very successfully with their on-line fulfillment. Every day they have been changing the featured tea, printing a DIY mini announcement and including it with orders. They are totally thrilled with the response from their customers – well worth the 5 minutes it takes to create an ‘insert flyer’.

If you would like help to understand this feature on our website, call our office and speak to one of our tea masters. They will create an immediate ‘GoTo Meeting’ with you (Zoom-like) and show you where the feature is and how to use it.

Thank you – Stay Safe - Wear a mask in public places, Sanitize, Make social distance the norm.


October 9, 2020 – update:

 

 COVID UPDATE

 For those of you whom have visited out office, you will know that we have a replica Terra Cotta Warrior and a wooden Kenyan giraffe in our lobby. We are not taking any chances!!

 

 OVERALL OPERATIONS   

 Everything is working well despite the fact we are all in abnormal times.

 

 Worry-Free dealings with the Metropolitan Tea 

  1.   - We keep 18-24 months of inventory (On Hand, Afloat, On order)
  2.   - All raw materials are vacuum packed upon factory arrival (20-year shelf life)
  3.   – Algorithms predicting demand continue to work exceptionally well

GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN   

Our supply chain remains strong. There was a hiccup because of a strike by longshoremen in Montreal port at the end of August which had ripple affects on operations in Halifax, New Jersey and Vancouver. However, everything seems to back to normal now and raw materials being received with not problems.

 

Here is how Metropolitan Tea is handling the 2nd wave in our Operations 

  1. Production:
  1. We are working 2 shifts per day. We split our production staff across 2 shifts to minimize cross-risk in the event of a problem.
  2. We are starting to work on Saturday and Sunday (1 shift per day) to build finished inventory to greater levels to offset the potential of a problem
  1. Shipping:
    1. We have split the Shipping team into 2 shifts, also to minimize personnel contact and risk to order fulfillment.
  2. Office Operations:
    1. Roughly half or our team are working remotely – undertaking GoTo Meetings, client contact and order taking.
    2. We have installed acrylic desk protectors (even though our staff have the required social distance spacing, we felt additional measures would be helpful – anything to minimize risk.
  3. Personnel
    1. The company continues to supply masks, face shields, gloves, sanitizer to all staff and encourages them to bring a supply home to help protect their families.
    2. The company is undertaking its own flu clinic in early November hiring medical staff to set up shop for a 1 day ‘roll up your sleeve please’.
    3. Regular emails to all staff giving updates and encouragement to stay safe. 

 

Shipping and Order Fulfillment   

Please take note that we have become exceptionally busy and expect to remain so until about December 20th as clients prepare for the upcoming Holiday Season. Tea and herbs with all their potential health benefits seem to be a gift of choice this year. Depending upon the day, we are experiencing longer than normal order preparation times (up to 1 to 3 days longer than normal). Please consider this in your planning.

 

UPS SHIPPING UPDATE 

Canada

No major problems to report, but please note that likely starting November 1st UPS will start having some seasonal delays.

 

USA

No major problems to report, but please note that likely starting November 1st UPS will start having some seasonal delays. Additionally, the Nov 3 election and Thanksgiving will invariably add a few delays here and there.

 

UK & EU

No major problems to report. Everything is operating normally at this point. The 2nd wave will invariably cause problems as well as Brexit may introduce its own nuances.

 


August 28, 2020 – update:

COVID UPDATE

We continue to be COVID free within our environment. From the outset we split the company into 4 teams:

    TEAM A and TEAM B for office, sales and day to day operations

    TEAM RAJ and TEAM ANTHONY for production

Should we have a problem then the unaffected team can carry on with no effect on our clients - everything to date is working well. Office teams work 8:30 am to 6:00 pm (EST) and Production Teams work the morning shift and afternoon shift.

 

TEA DEMAND

We have seen a steady increase in demand following the depths of April 2020, to the point that August sales are projected to be equal to August 2019 despite the fact that our Luxury Hospitality and Tourist business has not recovered to pre-covid levels. Eventually this will happen once the continent adjusts to the new normal and regular population movement returns. There is tremendous demand from online sellers.

 

OUR SUPPLY CHAIN

We have expected slow downs (about 1-2 months shipping delays) in raw materials coming from India and South Africa, but our very large on hand stock position has completely smoothed out the ‘bumps’. This has given us uninterrupted supply.

 

PRICING

In the past, we have normally instituted a pricing review on September Labor Day weekend. This year we are delaying the review until 2021 at a date to be determined. To consider a price increase at this juncture in our view, would be irresponsible. The  Covid matter has created conditions that we work through problems together – we feel that delaying the pricing review is our part of the ‘togetherness’. 

 

SHIPPING and PREPARATION FOR CHRISTMAS

Here is how you can help us help you.

    i) Try to place your orders online through our portal (This reduces our in-office pressure, especially so since we have basically half staff in the office at any one time.)

    ii) Expect significant shipping delays the closer we get to December 25 – the small package couriers will be overwhelmed with the volume – ideally from September onwards get your requirements to us about 1 to 2 weeks in advance of your normal pattern – or for that matter build a buffer stock for yourselves.

  

July 7, 2020 – update:

Metropolitan Luxury Tea Group

OPERATIONS    

Everything is operating well. Our vigilance in respect to reducing Covid risks is paying off handsomely. Everyone is healthy, we are at full employment and we all have smiles.

 

We are seeing somewhat of a return to near normalcy. Order rates are improving, average order size is increasing and clients continue to be happy with our service and luxury products – what’s there not to like, all things being considered.

 

 

GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN    

Our supply chain remains strong. The only area of concern we have at this moment is shipping from India – particularly the northern part of the country. Here are some snippets of what we are experiencing”

  1. The state of Assam has been placed under lockdown again which is affecting transport of our 2ndflush purchases to the port facilities.
  2. Darjeeling – All of our purchases have arrived at the port (we got lucky as road transport to the port was done quickly.
  3. South India – all our peak season February teas have been delivered to our factory

 

Overall, from India, we do not anticipate significant problems outside of a delay of a month or 2.

 

All other Origins:

Everything is proceeding as normal

 

Worry-Free dealings with the Metropolitan Luxury Tea Group.

  1. We keep 18-24 months of inventory (On Hand, Afloat, On order)
  2. All raw materials are vacuum packed upon factory arrival (20-year shelf life)
  3. Algorithms predicting demand continue to work exceptionally well

 

 

 

UPS SHIPPING UPDATE

Canada

UPS appears to be getting the earlier delays under control and normal delivery times are now being experienced throughout the UPS Canada system. 

 

USA

Delays are still being experienced throughout the UPS network as the company battles the resurgence in Covid 19 cases – especially in states that are showing a marked increase in new cases. We recommend that an additional 2-3 days delivery time be considered in planning for tea arrivals.

 

UK & EU

Delivery times have more or less returned to normal (pre Covid)

 

Global

The are some challenges delivering to various countries. As pockets of Covid are identified lockdowns are occurring which understandably cause delivery delays.

 

 

 

FARM UPDATES     

All growing areas are reporting some disruption due to the Covid crisis. Nevertheless, our long-term relationships with the growers and the fact that we pay deposits to all the growers puts our order at ‘the top of the heap’ so to speak. We are getting their best produce – as always!

 

 

 

PRICING REVIEW – All Currencies    

We have commenced our annual pricing review. Whilst we expect prices to remain stable, we are reviewing all raw material inputs as the Covid crisis is putting some upward pressure on various commodities – especially those that have immune-stimulant properties.

 

Thank you – Stay Safe  - Wear a mask in public places, sanitize, make social distancing the norm.


UPS Shipping Update - May 152020

Our shipping partner UPS is currently suffering major work slowdowns due to COVID-19. They have strict isolation policies for their staff and customers – thankfully so! Notwithstanding staff health, these strict policies are required so receivers do not fear a UPS arrival.

THEREFORE

a)   Shipping times are 2-4 days longer than normal depending upon the shipping hub.

b)   COD terms are no longer accepted. Therefore those that have COD terms are being changed to Credit Card.

 

 PLACING AN ORDER WITH METRO TEA

i) We will continue to ship 95% of all orders within 24 hours.

ii) Please allow for additional delivery time.

iii) Please check the UPS tracking tool on our website for the whereabouts of your shipment. 

iv) Please make sure that the address we are shipping to is an address that there is a person who can sign for the shipment. UPS will not leave a shipment unsigned unless to leave a note for them that states:

This letter gives you the authority to leave a shipment from The Metropolitan Tea Company Ltd without a signature. We accept delivery responsibilities”

 

 Here is a link to the UPS statement in this respect:

https://www.ups.com/ca/en/service-alerts.page?id=alert1


April 17, 2020 – update:  

Metropolitan Luxury Tea Group and the Coronavirus (Covid-19)

 

UPDATE

  • We continue to operate.
  • Our office duties are shared by 2 teams. Day to Day operations and Client outreach
  • Production is going on at about 90% of normal output.
  • There seems to be somewhat of a ‘sea change’ with more confidence in the future by some of our clients.
  • No one in our company has become sick and we have not place anyone on temporary layoff, n or do we expect this to occur.

 

KEEPING IN CONTACT WITH OUR GROWERS

Following is an email exchange with one of our growers in India. They share our ethics in all areas of business.

From our grower:

Dear Gerry and all at Metro

Thanks for sharing your early experience with COVID-19 and it’s great to see that both of us are thinking on the same lines. I would like to share with you a brief note on our procedures.

 

The entire country (India) went into a lockdown from the 24th of March. We did not work from 24th to the 31st of March however we continued to pay all our employees during the above period. We got the necessary permissions from the district authorities to work from the 30th of March and started regular work from the 1st of April diligently following the below.

 

1. All employees were examined by our doctors and nurses for any symptoms and were allowed to work only after they have cleared the doctor’s examination.

2. Everyday all employees are screened for temperature, cough and cold by our staff nurses before being allowed to work. If any employee is found having any symptoms they are asked to remain at home and are checked regularly by our medical staff.

3. Wash facilities have been provided at all work spots and it is mandated that all employees wash their hands at regular intervals.

4. Social distancing is strictly adhered to and employees are always at least a meter apart from each other.

5. All employees have been provided with masks and it is mandatory for them to wear them.

6. From the 24th of March we have closed all our gates and nobody is allowed to enter or leave the property unless specifically sanctioned. 

7. All essential items such as groceries are being arranged by us and delivered to the employees on the estate itself so they need not leave for these purposes. 

8. The country is going to be on lock down till the 3rd of May and we will continue these procedures at least until then.

9. We have included a few pictures showing some of our procedures. (Click the link at the top of the email to see the pictures from our supplier)

 

 

To our grower:

Dear Sejkash

Firstly – from my experience with Covid:

    - jump on the problemIMMEDIATELYeven if you don’t have a problem – (believe me it is coming your way)

    - start a policy of social distancing – everywhere!! (It takes about 1 week for people to get with your new program)

    - For your workers you might have do grocery runs to keep them separated from other villagers    - if you have estate transport make people wear masks.

    - have consequences if people don’t follow your rules – employ some staff to police your new rules. I know it is a bit draconian but the faster you can bring everybody into line the lower the probability of a problem.

     - We started clamping down about march 3 – we are still operating with no job losses. If everybody did what we have done there would continue to be a robust economy over here.

Regards

Gerry – Metro Tea

 


April 7, 2020 – update:

Metropolitan Luxury Tea Group and the Coronavirus (Covid-19)

BACKGROUND 

- We continue to operate, albeit business is not at the usual level – nevertheless it is giving us the opportunity to contact our clients, improve processes and position ourselves for the future. 

- We are seeing ‘glimpses of normality’ every now and then. 

- Covid-19 continues to ravage the economy and life as we know it. 

- Going forward, the manner in which we all have to do things has instantly changed. 

- No one in our company has become sick. 

 

OUR ACTION PLAN WHICH ALLOWED US TO MAINTAIN NORMAL OPERATIONS 

- We have been classified as an essential business by Canada and the USA (food manufacturer). 

- The office has been split into 2 teams – 1 team at home and the other team at the office. We have done the same with production – teams change on a regular basis. 

- Changes illuminated above allowed us to identify positive changes to processes making us more efficient. 

- Our cross-training early in the crisis have allowed us to make change with no ‘hiccups’ to operations. 

- We have instituted a mandatory mask policy, suspended customer pick-ups, rubber gloves if taking public transit, very rigorous sanitizing, no visitors, no traveling, stopped trade shows until after September and banning get-togethers outside of immediate family during non-working hours. Whilst these rules may seem harsh, they have been respected and are required to make our staff safe and by corollary an uninterrupted supply chain for our clients. 

 

OUR TEA SUPPLY 

- We have very large inventories in our warehouse under vacuum 

- Shipments are continuing to arrive from the farms 

- There is some delay in countries that have gone into total lockdown – but minor and no effect 

- With raw materials (tea and herbs) in course of shipping to us, plus on hand stocks, we have sufficient inventory on hand to accommodate 9-12 months of normal demand. 

 


March 10, 2020 – update: 

Metropolitan Luxury Tea Group and the Coronavirus (Covid-19)

 

BACKGROUND

  • Covid19 is now starting to create the potential for serious business interruption in Canada and the USA, notwithstanding all the other countries in the world.
  • Whilst it may not be what we want, we need to be pragmatic and realistic about the potential for complications.
  • Your company relies on us as a source of premium quality and stable supply
  • We rely on you as a loyal client.
  • It is a partnership which we enjoy.

 

ACTION PLAN TO MAINTAIN NORMAL OPERATIONS

  • We are building a computer network which will allow our office staff to work from home with full access to email and the company’s main computer systems.
  • We have a plan in place to have 50 % of our office staff work from home and 50% work at the office (the banks are doing the same with their trading departments)
  • We are cross training staff to assist in order preparation, manufacturing, production, order picking, and shipping. Getting our luxury tea to you is job number 1.
  • Implementation if required, to occur immediately

 

OUR TEA SUPPLY

  • We have very large inventories in our warehouse under vacuum
  • Shipments are continuing to arrive from the farms
  • With raw materials (tea and herbs) in course of shipping to us, plus on hand stocks, we have sufficient inventory on hand to accommodate 12 months of normal demand.
  • We do not anticipate any interruptions

 

IMPLICATIONS

  • Should we need to activate our Action Plan, you may see minor delays – perhaps 1 or 2 day fulfillment times compared to our normal turnaround time of less than 24 hours.

 

TRADE SHOWS

  • Natural and Organic Products, London                            the show has been delayed until July
  • SIAL Montreal April 1517                                                     we are cancelling our participation
  • SCCA, Portland OR. Apr.2426                                             we are cancelling our participation        
  • National Restaurant Show, Chicago May 1821            on our watch list – likely will be cancelled
  • World Tea Expo, Denver CO. June 811                            on our watch list – likely will be cancelled          

 


March 3, 2020 – Update: 

Metropolitan Luxury Tea Group and the Coronavirus (Covid-19)

 

2020 CHINA CROP UPDATES:

  • Farms are back at work and the new crop is just starting
  • Crops are not affected and initial reports are that quality is good

 

SHIPPING FROM CHINA:

  • Currently there are delays up to 8 weeks
  • Offices and shipping companies are starting to get back at work
  • The offices and companies have labor shortages due to mass quarantines
  • Normal shipping is expected to be back on track by the end of May

 

AFFECTS ON METROPOLITAN’S INVENTORY AND SHIPPING;

  • There is no affect. (We keep large raw material inventories (generally 15 months and in vacuum for the ultimate in freshness – you’d have to go to the tea estate to get fresher tea!)
  • There is normal shipping and normal order fulfillment from our facility with no ‘hiccups

 

METRO’S MANUFACTURING PROCEDURES AND WHY YOU ARE SAFE

  1. Constantly in contact with the farms for weekly updates
  2. Tea is packed at the estate into superior food grade packing materials
  3. Palletized, containerized and shipped by sea   (mechanically – no human contact)     
  4. Arrival at Metro tea and unloaded     (mechanically – no human contact)
  5. Refined as required     (mechanically – no human contact))
    1. Equipment sanitized with food grade sanitizer (eliminates contamination @ 99.99% effectiveness)
  6. Prepared for raw material storage (vacuum packed)   (mechanically – no human contact)
    1. Equipment sanitized with food grade sanitizer (eliminates contamination @ 99.99% effectiveness)
  7. Finished goods blending and packing   (mechanically – no human contact)
    1. Equipment sanitized with food grade sanitizer (eliminates contamination @ 99.99% effectiveness)

Note: Our food grade sanitizer is a plant-based compound and water-soluble…. and 99.99% effective!

 

Other notes:

  1. Teas that are flavored:
    1. The flavoring we use is ethyl alcohol based**. Ethyl alcohol is plant-based, water-soluble and in itself, a known sanitizer.
  2. Ethyl alcohol complete evaporates following flavoring.
  3. Our manufacturing processes are virtually human contact free. Between flavors and/or different blends the equipment is sanitized (eliminates contamination @ 99.99% effectiveness).
  4. Throughout our facility, enhanced personnel sanitizing stations are standard protocol and regular staff training is undertaken to ensure compliance (FSSC 22000 certified)

 

** Ethyl alcohol is the ‘carrier’ for the essential oils. How it works is the essential oils are blended into the ethyl alcohol. The essential oils breakdown into molecules creating a flavoring solution. The fluid is then applied to the blend by atomizing the flavoring. The molecules in solution with the ethyl alcohol penetrate the tea leaves. The ethyl alcohol evaporates virtually instantly. The result is that the essential oil molecules are deep within the tea leaves giving the consumer an extraordinary taste experience

 

The other option (which we don’t use) for a flavoring carrier is known as Propylene Glycol (PG). PG is a petroleum-based volatile compared to ethyl alcohol which is water based. We have seen that PG based flavored teas have a slight ‘chemically’ aftertaste. Understandable, as it is petroleum based. {You might be interested to know that PG is used by airports around the world to de-ice aircraft if necessary – yum!}


February 25, 2020 

 Metropolitan Luxury Tea Group and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We would like to share the following statement in respect to the Coronavirus and tea.

CHINESE TEA

The new season (the best quality) for Chinese tea does generally not begin until the end of March and carries through to end April/mid-May – corresponding to our purchase times. Shipment to us does not normally take place until the beginning of June and the transit time is about 60 days from the estate to our facility.

 

JAPANESE TEA

The new season (best quality) for Japanese does not begin until May/June – again corresponding to our purchase times. A transit time of minimally 60 days transpires once the tea is available for shipment to us. Japanese tea is primarily green tea and it undergoes steaming for 3 minutes before being processed and finally dried at high temperatures. In all cases, temperature exceeds 200 degrees F (95 degrees C).

 

TEA DRYING

All tea (black, green, oolong) including Chinese and Japanese Tea, is mechanically dried at temperatures above 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) for minimally 15 minutes. Chinese white tea is sun dried and may undergo up to 5 minutes of mechanical drying at the above noted temperature. Reports from the W.H.O. and other health authorities indicate that the incubation period of Corona Virus is up to 14 days in a live host – (transit time is 60 days). There have been NO reports that Corona Virus is able to survive in high temperatures or in products that are dried to below 4-5% moisture.

 

RECOMMENDED STEEPING TEMPERATURE and TIME

The recommended steeping temperature of tea in water is greater than 190 degrees F (90C) for 5 minutes. (We also recommend that you bring the water to a boil and allow it to cool to the desired steeping temperature).

Whilst tea is prepared to individual tastes, the longer your steep tea the better it tastes and the higher the probability that any microorganisms in the water will die due to high temperature.

We believe that drinking tea regardless of the origin of the tea, is a safe practice. To the best of our knowledge, there are no microorganisms that can survive high temperature tea steeping; so not only is tea good for you, but with proper and recommended preparation, you also ensure that the water is free of potentially harmful microorganisms.