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Innovation at ekaterra

Innovation is at the heart of ekaterra. It's in the DNA of all of our brands. And it’s the reason tea pioneers like Arthur Brooke and Sir Thomas Lipton were able to transform one-man enterprises into global successes.

As a new business with two centuries of history, we sometimes say we're ‘a €2 billion start-up’. With an industry leading sustainability agenda, we have unique expertise in regenerative agriculture and technology health and nutritional science; plant positive packaging; and digitally enabled tea blending.

How we define innovation

We see innovation in two ways: evolution and revolution.

Evolution is when we update an existing product by refreshing, improving or relaunching the existing portfolio. That can mean anything from tweaking the pack to make it less wasteful, to improving our ingredients, or adding an extra variant.

Revolution happens when we create an exciting new product, a new brand, format, business model, or underlying technology. Both are vital, and both work for the good of people and planet – from tea drinkers the whole world over, through to our colleagues and partners.

Innovation in action

Our commitments

Innovating our way towards a better world

Our name, ekaterra means ‘one earth’. And we know the earth is faced with many problems.

At ekaterra, we’re optimistic. We believe that through innovation, there’s a bright future ahead. But it won’t be easy. The hurdles before us are giant: it’s going to take a new kind of innovation to change things.

Our approach to innovation begins with our consumers. It’s shaped by our sustainability mission, and it’s carried out with clarity and speed.

And because the challenges before us are complex, it’ll need – and we allow for – more thinking time. It’s about bringing back the joy of innovation.

All our innovations are based on consumer insight. Around the world, there’s a growing desire to protect the planet, putting sustainability at the heart of all we do. From what goes into our teas, to how we source raw materials, to how environmentally friendly our packaging is: all these will influence whether people choose ekaterra products.

By having our own tea estates, we can use the latest science and technology to make interventions in our tea gardens and factories – so that we can come up with exclusive and differentiated products.

By changing and improving the way tea is grown, sold and enjoyed, it can help be of significant benefit to all.

“Innovation is a team sport. We come together to brew something that will be sustainable, delicious, and a lasting success.”

Red Rose - Zibi

Zbigniew Lewicki

Chief R&D and Sustainability Officer, ekaterra

Fundamentals and Principles

When it comes to innovation, everything we do is based on three principles: technology, sustainability, and consumer-centricity.

Technology\nCollaborative partnerships
Technology\nCollaborative partnerships

Technology

Collaborative partnerships

Tea and herbs are our special partners, and we like to treat them as such. Our farmers choose the best tea varieties, growing them in a way that generates high quality leaves, full of flavour.

Leaves are by nature delicate, so our scientists treat them with care and respect during the drying phase to bring the best of nature’s goodness to your cup.

We have proprietary, unique-to-industry patents that enable our factories to make teas with characteristic aromas, flavours and ‘mouthfeel’. Our experts blend teas from different origins to delight your senses and contribute to good health.

Our other special friends are the external partners who play an important role in our innovations. We nurture long-term, good-for-both-sides relationships with suppliers, small farmers, academics and individual experts. Teaming up to bring the most creative innovations to you, wherever you are.

Sustainability\nAt the centre of our strategy
Sustainability\nAt the centre of our strategy

Sustainability

At the centre of our strategy

You might’ve heard about our purpose already: to create a world of wellbeing through the regenerative power of plants. From the start, we’ve been measuring our progress on this journey. Our Impact 2030 Plan looks at ekaterra’s impact on people and planet, with a focus on six ambitious goals: inclusive wellness; resilient livelihoods; thriving communities; being nature restorative; climate positive; and waste-free.

The Impact Plan is built on our business foundation: to work as a force for good. This covers important areas like human rights, corporate transparency, the quality and safety of our products, and more. At ekaterra, sustainability is everyone’s job. That’s why it’s so important for everyone and everything to be fully integrated into our innovation powerhouse, no matter if it’s plant-based teabags, certified sustainably sourced ingredients or even adherence to responsible nutrition standards.

Read more about our Impact 2030 Plan within Our Purpose

Consumer-centricity\nKnowing people better
Consumer-centricity\nKnowing people better

Consumer-centricity

Knowing people better

We pride ourselves on putting consumers at the heart of every business decision, every time. It’s what consumer-centricity is. Everyone at ekaterra invests time inside and outside work to get a better understanding of what consumers want. It‘s about ‘walking in consumers shoes’ – to understand their world, appreciate diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and see the real people behind the data.

We fall in love with the problem: we don’t rush to a product-solution. We always start by working out just what it is our consumers are looking for – even if they don’t really know. The innovation journey takes many iterations. It’s a story of collaboration, testing, and validation with consumers. Only then do we know the product’s right.

And through our Voice of People programme, we can connect with and speak to consumers as individuals and as a community, throughout the year, whether or not we have a specific project in mind. It’s about being immersed in people’s lives. Because people don’t want a ‘product’: they want a solution to their problem.

Innovate with us

A call for the world’s innovators

More minds are better than one. We believe in the power of collaboration – bringing people together to co-create a world of wellbeing. Together, we believe we can solve difficult challenges facing the industry, and our societies, today.

Our vision is to build an innovation ecosystem where ‘botanical magic happens,’ through a portfolio of strategic partnerships.

If you’re a supplier of ingredients, finished goods, packaging or equipment; or a scientist, entrepreneur, or even inventor, we invite you to partner with us to solve challenges around technology, sustainability and value creation.

Some of the questions we’re working on now are around fertilizer reduction; tea diversity; pilot plant facilities; waste reduction; sustainable sourcing; sustainable packaging, and more.

We’re keen to grow our Innovation ecosystem. To hear about our Partnership programme and how to collaborate with us on issues like these, contact zoe.cowley@ekaterratea.com

Why not join our Innovation team?

Have you thought about a career in Innovation? Would you like to become one of our experts?

Find out more about ekaterra careers