Camellia Plc, the holding company of the Goodricke Group has won the crown as the world’s largest private tea producer in a bid from Brij Mohan Khaitan’s McLeod Russel India.
McLeod has sold 21 gardens in India, reducing almost 32 million kg in production. Its exit from Rwanda further trimmed around 5 million kg, taking its global output to around 80 million kg. In 2017-18, it had produced 118 million kg of tea. In contrast to this, Camellia saw its highest-ever production levels through own and managed factories in 2018 at 103 mn kg from 95 million kg in 2017.
Goodricke has bought two estates from McLeod. Camellia Chairman Malcolm Perkins said in the annual report, “In an important development after the year-end, we acquired two tea estates in Assam, which together with our existing estates, we believe, makes us the largest private tea producer in the world.”
He also added, “These are long-term projects, in line with our strategy to diversify our production footprint and add value to our products.”
Atul Asthana, managing director at Goodricke Group, said Camellia’s achievement was driven by good agricultural practices, he said,“In India, after the acquisition of two gardens in Assam, we are not looking at further acquisitions. Currently, our production stands at 36 million kg in India, of which 28 million kg is our own production.”
It is not going to be the first time McLeod would have lost its status as the world’s largest producer. In 2001, when the Khaitans and Magors split, the estates under George Williamson Assam — a company controlled by the Magor family but managed by the Khaitans — went with it and consequently a sizable production from the group portfolio.