Fairfield-based Bigelow Tea, celebrating its 70th year of operation as a family-owned company, has teamed with the Girls Scouts of the USA in a licensing agreement that has put the popular Thin Mints and Caramel & Coconut cookie flavors in teas on shelves across the country. The teas are marketed as gluten free, sugar free and Kosher-certified and will be available for a limited time only, according to company officials. Bigelow produces 1.7 billion tea bags annually in 130 flavors, the company reported. Bigelow, which is privately held, employs 350 people in Fairfield; Boise, Idaho; and Louisville, Kentucky; as well as its Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina.
Bigelow President and CEO Cindi Bigelow is a former Girl Scout. “Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout,” she said in a statement. “As a proud Girl Scout alumna, our two new tea temptations reflect the Bigelow Tea blenders’ never-ending quest to delight consumers with up-to-the-minute flavor innovations in a way that’s very special to me.”
Only about 5 percent of companies nationwide have female CEOs, including Cindy Bigelow, who has been involved with the family business in one way or another since she was a teenager. Bigelow, who represents the third generation in her family to run the business, said it's the personal touch that keeps the company successful. The company was founded in 1945 by Cindi Bigelow's grandmother, Ruth Campbell Bigelow.
“These delicious teas are made possible by a licensing arrangement with Girl Scouts of the USA and combine the renowned flavor blending expertise of the Bigelow Tea Co. with the time-honored exciting Girl Scout Cookie flavors we all know and love,” the company said. The company-suggested price is $3.99 per 20-bag box.
The Thin Mint tea “delivers the perfectly balanced mint and chocolate flavor of the Girl Scouts’ famous Thin Mints cookies” and the Caramel & Coconut tea is described as a “black tea blend offering a delectable taste combination of luscious caramel and coconut,” the company explained.
Tea has been increasing in popularity, and now ranks as the second most consumed beverage in the world, after water, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. The wholesale value of tea sold in the U.S. grew from less than $2 billion in 1990 to more than $10 billion today. Bigelow has about $150 million in annual sales, according to a company news release, but it claims 24 percent market share in the specialty teas category, making it the industry leader.
As CEO, Cindy Bigelow initiated the Annual Bigelow Tea Community Challenge that has donated over $1 million to local charities and participates in volunteer projects that include Habitat for Humanity’s Adopt-a-Home program. Under her leadership, the company was one of the first in Connecticut to install solar panels to offset energy usage, and she has implemented other innovations that have earned Bigelow Tea the distinction of being a Zero Waste to Landfill company. Over the past several years, the company reports it has reduced our energy consumption by over 2.5 million kWh in the Fairfield plant through energy efficiency measures, resulting in a savings of over 2.7 million pounds of carbon, or the equivalent of planting 41 million trees.
As a family owned company for three generations, Bigelow Tea’s company culture includes a commitment to sustainability and fair business practices, "not only here at home but around the world. That’s why we’re proud to be part of the Ethical Tea Partnership, an organization that works with tea growers to establish methods for responsible conservation of the world’s tea fields and improve the lives of the beautiful people who work the," the company website points out.
Portions of this story originally appeared in the Fairfield County Business Journal