When we launched as the UK's first Guayusa supplier in 2015, we made the decision this was a product that needed respecting with a premium price point. It was a really niche product then and cost a fortune to import. It still does.
Our fear with pricing this organic, ceremonial-grade product too low was that it would lead to driving the cost down for producers in the Amazon (for who this is a relatively new commercial crop), while leaving the early pioneers importing it no hope of gaining any meaningful traction without serious investment and time on their hands to raise awareness and create a sufficient 'positive feedback' loop.
To our knowledge, Guayusa is not at the commercial scale where it can be or should be as cheap as a box of regular tea, for example. Getting this product from the Ecuadorian rainforest to our customers' tea cups is a journey with many, many permutations at its current scale. It is in our case, certainly. If someone else has worked out a better way we can only offer them our respect.
Before we get to the table that sets out our new versus old prices (which are really good value and were before too), a few words on what 'value' has also always meant to us:
- Knowing our products are packed in UK tea factories carrying appropriate certifications including the British Retail Consortium, Ethical Tea Partnership, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Organic Certification. Naturally, we had to work the costs of paying a real tea factory into our margins. Small businesses pay the highest prices for the lowest-volume runs and we're lucky to have gotten a foot in the door at all - it wasn't easy. Our tea factory partner packs our tea / tea bags into a special material called 'NatureFlex', made from renewable wood pulp.
- Packing materials: We use top-grade biodegradable mesh for our tea bags. Our branded boxes are produced by the same company who's worked with Maldon Sea Salt, Dorset Cereals, Clipper Tea and many more. Getting a decent FSC Certified custom box that uses only plant-based inks also had to be worked into the margins. We're hoping to get Guayusa into supermarkets and create a brand that does Guayusa justice, using the same quality materials - not have it look like something thrown together on the dining room table.
- Being a member of 1% for the Planet and donating to two environmental charities - one in the UK (Thames 21) and one in Ecuador (The Ecuadorian Rivers Institute). Your orders helped us to do this.
- Knowing our supplier (who we buy from directly) pays their farmer collectives 15% more than the Fair Trade rate.
- Representing Guayusa at a number of local markets, the Natural Organic Products Show, International Food Convention 2019 with our friends from Pro Ecuador, Taste of London, writing guest blogs for larger drinks brands, appearing on our good friend's JARR Kombucha's instagram channel for a deep dive Guayusa interview, and generally chewing everyones' ear off about Guayusa that we meet.
- Uncovering more of Guayusa's story behind the scenes at Kew Gardens and actually making the effort to visit our supplier in Ecuador along with the ultimate blessing of attending a real Guayusa ceremony, meeting some of the Kichwa and seeing where it grows on their land. Read more in our series of blogs about this.
- Knowing our storage location and packing area was recently visited in person by our local council's Food Safety Team and awarded the top rating.
- Knowing we invested in a specialist Food Law Firm who made sure every word we said on our packaging was right and proper before we printed a single box.
- Collaborating with shamanic teacher, healer, speaker, bestselling author & trips leader, Itzhak Beery on Guayusa ceremonies conducted in West London which were absolutely beautifully led by this wise human being.
It's thanks to Guayusa coming into our lives that we've had all these opportunities.
- Finally, and really boring, sorry - passing value to our customers by making a loss as a business over the years by undercharging on postage - it's so hard for small business to compete with things like Amazon Prime, although going a bit cheaper was our best challenge to try and compete - and if you as any small business are absorbing a 'First Class' postage cost of £3.95 into your overall product cost for the UK alone, then how can it 'wash its own face', let alone raise capital for future investment? To get a business to the scale where you can drive those kinds of savings on bulk postage by working with fulfilment centres is not a stage The Guayusa Co has ever been. We hope you understand why we have to have always charged some kind of postage cost, because even the boxes or jiffy bags need paying for.
Believe it or not - to this day, we've not turned a profit or even broken even. It's been done for the love of Guayusa, and for so many years now.
The events that have unfolded over the last few years have really harmed small businesses and many individuals. We hope you're doing well, but we're sure you may know people who are struggling right now either as families, individuals or businesses.
We're not going to lie, it's been a real struggle for The Guayusa Co to keep surviving too - especially over the last couple of years.
We've been planning for a while to further reduce our prices*, a) so we can try to keep Guayusa more affordable, being well aware aware of the current climate, and, b) so we can at least hope to move enough stock to cover our own business overheads until the world gets back on its feet and at least keep a trickle of Guayusa going.
Therefore, here are our new prices with clarity on the savings presented and we hope they are helpful to you.
Thanks for all your support over the years if you're one of our regular customers and if you've not yet tried Guayusa, what are you waiting for?
*we first reduced our prices earlier this year