Flavour of Argentine beverage in India! Country gives market access to Yerba Mate; ‘A powerful antioxidants, 90% more than green tea’

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Updated: Mar 24, 2021 6:56 PM

The market access for the Yerba Mate was raised during the Joint trade Commission meeting between the two countries last year and the National Institute of Yerba Mate (INYM), the producers of Argentine Yerba Mate is actively promoting the consumption of this product in India.

India traditionally is a tea (black) drinking country. And people drink their tea with a lot of sugar, milk and other Indian spices customised to their taste.India traditionally is a tea (black) drinking country. And people drink their tea with a lot of sugar, milk and other Indian spices customised to their taste.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Argentina and the Ministry of Agriculture of India, have reached an agreement which will allow Argentina to export Yerba Mate for human consumption. Last week, the Indian government gave the access of Ilex paraguariensis (Yerba mate) from Argentina after clearing the sanitary conditions for its entry. Argentina becomes the first country which has got access to the Indian market for this product.

The market access for the Yerba Mate was raised during the Joint trade Commission meeting between the two countries last year and the National Institute of Yerba Mate (INYM), the producers of Argentine Yerba Mate is actively promoting the consumption of this product in India.

Yerba Mate, in its presentation in small containers (cooked mate), is gaining popularity as a drink with healthy benefits including strong antioxidant and energy drink. In 2020, Argentina exported 40,694 tons of Yerba Mate, worth 84 million dollars. And the main destination is Syria, which last year accounted for 76 percent of sales, followed by Chile and also the European Union.

Yerba Mate is a beverage from Argentina (South America) with customized taste and local blends to suit the Indian palate (Made in India). It offers a bundle of wellness from the rainforests of Argentina (South America) as it is a powerful source of antioxidants, 90% more than green tea. It has Matein, which provides energizing effects and is very Popular amongst the Football players such as Messi, & Neymar. It is rich in minerals such as potassium, Iron & magnesium as well as vitamins such as B6 and C strengthening the immune system.

And the man who has introduced this exotic drink in India is Anish Narang, Managing Director, Karavan Advisory Enterprises LLP (Karavan). He is an entrepreneur with experience in the field of International Business Advisory, with a focus on India, the US, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, and Chile (Latin America), and other global markets.

According to him, “Yerba Mate is very well positioned as an alternative to – firstly Green & Herbal Teas as it offers powerful antioxidants 90 per cent more than green tea and secondly, Coffee as it has less Caffeine, and at the same time giving higher energising effects for longer period.

Anish Narang, Managing Director, Karavan Advisory Enterprises LLP, shares with Huma Siddiqui his experiences of getting the unique drink in the Indian market.

Following are excerpts:

What made you think of introducing Yerba Mate in India?

Well, I was introduced to Yerba (herb) Mate (cup) during my 2nd trip to South America in 2014 and that was the time when Green Tea and other Herbal Teas were growing in India. This was the time when Indian consumers had started experimenting with exotic and herbal teas and Green tea was growing at a rate of 25 per cent per annum.

We discovered Yerba Mate (Pronounced as Yer-ba Mah-tay or Cher-va Mah-tay) offering 90% more antioxidants than green tea and presenting a great antioxidant power due to its high concentration of polyphenols.

The culture & experience of having Yerba Mate in a gourd (cup) and bombilla (straw), including growth of alternative teas and the health benefits coming from the green forest of Argentina led us to introduce Yerba Mate in India.

What were the challenges you faced?

Argentine Yerba Mate is a popular drink in South America, Middle East, parts of US, and Europe, however still a very new product for India. Yerba Mate has been very popular with Football stars such as Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Griezmann etc. as it has powerful antioxidants and lesser caffeine.

India traditionally is a tea (black) drinking country. And people drink their tea with a lot of sugar, milk and other Indian spices customised to their taste.

Gourmet and Green Teas are growing rapidly in India; however, the share is still small. We are trying to break into the Indian Gourmet Tea & Beverage Industry and Yerba Mate could come with a variety of flavours (Indian Blends) and packed with loads of goodness.

With the new notification do you think it will become smoother for the Mate marketing?

Though, inspection and Analysis of Yerba Mate was undertaken by Plant Quarantine sometime back; the discussion on the protocols were going on between the Government of India and Argentina for a few years and finally Yerba Mate has been accepted.

This will open up the market for Argentine Yerba Mate in India with more players interested in buying into Yerba Mate. Yes, we could look at bigger marketing activity with the support of Instituto Nacional de la Yerba Mate (INYM) Argentina and from Argentine companies such as Santo Pipo SCL (Pipore), La Cachuera (Amanda); Pindo and Rosamonte.

Do you think Indians understand the taste and enjoy it?

Yerba Mate has an acquired taste; however, with time and right blending; Indian consumers have bought into the Yerba Mate in a big way. The Mate properties such as Antioxidants, Source of Vitamins and Minerals; Energising Effect, satisfies the functional needs and Indian blends such as cardamom, cinnamon, Holy Basil, Ginger, Saffron, Mango, Mint etc. is catering to emotional and taste needs of the Indian consumer.

We launched Yerba Mate tea in India in tea bags and in loose form which was highly appreciated by the Indian consumers.

In some countries Tea drinking is a ritual. Mate is also similar on those lines — Thermos, Cup and Bombilla are some of the essentials that you need. What kind of a market is there in India?

Yes the — thermos, cup and bombilla is the traditional way of drinking Yerba Mate in South America and Argentina.

Indian consumers have been open with exotic new products and the experience that goes with it. Nowadays Indian young-generation are more interested in procuring Yerba Mate in Pure form with added health benefits and drinking it in a gourd (cup)and bombilla (straw). We plan to promote more of this as we have seen an interest and consumers appreciating the new experience greatly.

What are you introducing in India? And where they will be available besides online platforms?

Yerba Mate is mostly available online in tea bags and loose mate tea, on Amazon, Flipkart, Qtrove and other specialised websites and platforms. We plan to have Yerba Mate in premium retail stores such as Food Hall; Modern Bazaar; Nature’s Basket and other Gourmet Stores too soon. It is also available in café such as Smoke House Deli, Burma Burma; Tea Villa, to name a few. We have importers and distributors from India such as Chado Tea, Sunshine, Pipore Beverages, Matero and others distributing and supplying Yerba Mate.

We have also introduced first Yerba Mate brand from Argentina ‘Kaa Yari by Pipore’ in India; we are importing Yerba Mate from Argentina, do the blending and packaging here in India and offer premium Yerba Mate in 3 natural flavours, Pure, Lemongrass, and Rose. We are launching the traditional way of drinking Argentine Yerba Mate with gourd and bombilla as well.

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