When Opportunities NB (ONB) last spoke to Tracy Bell, CEO and co-founder of Millennia TEA, the Saint John company had already seen success selling their innovative fresh-leaf teas through retailers across the country. Check out that interview here where Tracy discusses scaling up, their experience with the Grow Export program, and an export mission to Boston.
Over two years later, Millennia TEA is now finding its way into the freezers of Sobeys, Canada’s second largest grocer. April saw the company announce a partnership with Sobeys that would bring the first raw, undried TEA to the grocery chain’s freezers across the country.
Award-Winning TEA made in New Brunswick
In a post from mid-May, Tracy Bell notes that Millennia TEA has been awarded Sobeys’ Local Innovation Award, presented to a company the grocer feels is “doing something exciting and unique in the grocery space.”
It’s the latest accomplishment for the Saint John duo who have already won Best New Product (Innovation) at the World Tea Awards, Outstanding Business Award (Emerging Enterprise) from the Saint John Regional Chamber of Commerce, and a Peoples’ Choice Gold Award (for its Peach Pale Ale) from the Saint John Beer Fest.
Resilience in a Post-Pandemic World
“The natural path to market for a specialty wellness product such as ours is through health stores first, and we had all kinds of interest from health-food buyers for our raw tea,” notes Bell. “But as soon as the pandemic hit, the health industry stopped taking on new innovation products, and we needed to quickly re-think our business model.”
She says they had just been accepted into the Sobeys Support Local program, where small businesses like theirs are given an opportunity to sell products in local stores. They had set up in 10 local locations just days before COVID-19 hit the region.
“Our presence in Sobeys grew over the spring and summer to more than 30 locations in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. When we asked Sobeys if they would consider working with us to bring fresh tea to the rest of Canada, we were thrilled when they said yes. And to be able to bring that plan into reality is a dream come true,” she says.
ONB is thrilled to see New Brunswick companies thriving in a post-COVID-19 environment. Millennia TEA and stories like theirs are demonstrating why business confidence is returning as we begin to put the pandemic in our rear-view mirrors.
“The resilience of New Brunswick’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is inspiring. And its resurgence as we enter a post-pandemic landscape is exciting. From everything we’re hearing, Canadians are feeling hopeful,” Bell told ONB. “As a society, we’ve woken up to the importance of putting our well-being front and centre. All signs point to a greater-than-ever focus on fueling wellness, respecting our planet, and demonstrating compassion and care for others, which benefits not only products and services that promote health, like ours, but a stronger and more connected province and country as a result. We’re over-the-moon grateful to ONB, and to its partner agencies, for the ways in which they’ve helped us overcome obstacles no one could have predicted these past 16 months. And we’re excited to join the growing list of companies from the region making strides to boost the innovation economy of beautiful New Brunswick.”
Learn more at www.millenniatea.com.
ONB continues to tell the stories of client companies like Millennia TEA that are building the new New Brunswick we envision. Watch this space and our social media for more: Twitter – Facebook – LinkedIn – YouTube