Matcha magic? Buddha Teas to expand into Mexico

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Image courtesy of Buddha Teas
Image courtesy of Buddha Teas
California-based Buddha Teas is venturing into Latin America for the first time, expanding into Mexico with single-herb teas, cannabidiol blends and its ready-to-drink (RTD) matcha beverage.

The natural and organic tea company secured a distributor earlier this year and set up Buddha Teas Mexico with the aim of launching products into the market by January, next year.

Speaking exclusively to FoodNavigator-LATAM about the imminent launch, Kaitlyn Lloyd, business development manager at Buddha Teas, said the company was just finalizing paperwork and packaging, as well as shortlisting what products to bring to market.

“There was a huge debate on whether the CBD [cannabidiol] teas would be able to be brought in and what kind of blends etc. and it actually looks like everything can come in,” Lloyd told FoodNavigator-LATAM.

“Eventually we will do our entire line in Mexico, but that's about another year or two down the line.”

Matcha Now will be our big push

Buddha teas
Image courtesy of Buddha Teas

Lloyd said that whilst Buddha Teas was bringing a number of product into Mexico, its ready-to-drink matcha product 'Organic Matcha Now' would be the big focus.

The beverage had a release cap system where dry matcha was stored then released into water by twisting, she said, making on-the-go matcha simple for consumers.

“Our research suggests that the RTDs will be the most recognized and popular item because of the high demand of matcha in general (…) We believe the Matcha Now will be the next craze in Mexico; we want to really focus on this ready-to-drink item,”​ she said.

Asked if Buddha Teas was anticipating competition in the growing matcha market, she said: “Oh yeah, there will be. But the reason we're not too stressed about the competitive market in Mexico is because of the type and quality of matcha we're using. Since it is such a huge venture out into Mexico, and everybody does drink matcha and it's accessible there, we pull from our organic tea farm in Japan and it's ceremonial grade matcha, which is the highest grade you can get.”

There also wasn't much in the way of RTD matcha competition in the market, she said.

In terms of market trends, Lloyd said the market was similar to the US, with both “moving forward quickly”​ in organic and natural, which was great for Buddha Teas. “We do believe Mexico will be a huge success.”

Buddha Teas would start by aiming to get stocked in natural, organic and specialty retail stores but the wider plan was to retail in as many outlets as possible, she said.

Budda Teas CBD Tea range is made using cannabidiol – a non-psychoactive derivative of industrial hemp – but processing has ensured no trace of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the principal, active molecule in cannabis. Each teabag contains 5mg of nano-sized particles of water-soluble CBD, processed to be bioavailable when blended with hot water

In-country distributor is a 'no brainer'

Buddha Kaitlyn Lloyd
Kaitlyn Lloyd, business development manager at Buddha Teas

Lloyd said working with a distributor in Mexico was a “no-brainer”, ​like any expansion, not only for feedback and market expertise but also to keep distribution costs down.

“We always have a distributor [when moving into new markets] and ones that have a good following and background of natural products. We do our research on our end, obviously, but I think it's going to definitely help us tremendously, especially with freight costs – that's a huge thing for us​.”

Organic Matcha Now retailed for $2.99 in the US and the goal was to match this price in Mexico, she said, although final pricing was yet to be determined. “We want to be the lowest-priced ready-to-go matcha drink on the shelf.”

Lloyd said Buddha Teas would focus on building business in Mexico for a year and then consider expanding further south into other parts of Latin America, although if offers came up earlier the company would definitely consider them.