Organic Merchant wins Manufacturer of the Year at the Australian Organic Industry Awards

What started as creating tea blends for in-house naturopathy clients, and making weekend sales at
Paddington Markets in Sydney, Organic Merchant has evolved into one of Australia’s leading certified organic wellness tea brands.

Now stocking products in more than 500 stores nationwide, in addition to direct selling through online sales, founder and naturopath, Chalimah Jeanne, said the company offers consumers more than certified organic tea and cacao.

“At Organic Merchant, we are stewards of sustainability and regenerative practices and continue to educate ourselves and experiment with new practices to improve our production processes and chain of suppliers,” Ms Jeanne said.

“Winning the first-ever Manufacturer of the Year Award is an incredible honour and validates our efforts in supporting and leading the organic movement here locally in Australia and internationally.

Some of you may remember Chalimah from our Exclusive Breakfast Event at the Treehouse in June. There she gave us some insight into her business journey and stories of challenges, resilience and balancing her professional and personal lives.

I sat down with her after her big win to find out what this award means to her…

Tell us a little about you and your business:

Organic Merchant is a holistic wellness and lifestyle brand integrating nourishing traditional, indigenous, and innovative practices into the everyday, for the optimal health and wellbeing of people and the planet.

We create certified organic teas, tisanes, cacao blends and bath soaks for people, the planet, and purposefulness.

Each blend has been years in the making, taking learnings from modern science, ancient Western, Chinese, Peruvian and Ayurvedic teachings. We hand-blend everything fresh in Sydney, delivering the highest quality tea, beautifully presented, and sustainably packaged with care and consideration.

Our products are crafted with the philosophy of purity and beauty as we are committed to using 100% certified organic produce and working towards becoming a B certified business. This is really important to me as I grew up in a remote coastal town in WA and fell in love with the earth’s natural beauty. Being a naturopath is not just a profession for me but more a way of living – an oath to live with purity, mindfulness and awareness of nature.

When you found out you were a finalist for Organic Manufacturer of the Year, what did that mean
to you?

I was shocked actually; it was an incredible honour. We continually look to thought leaders in this space and continue to educate ourselves and experiment with new practices to better our production processes and chain of suppliers.

To be classified as one of those thought leaders, really validate our efforts. In the last 12 months we have been active in pushing innovation within our business and focusing on expanding our organic product offering to position ourselves as a leader in this space.

What do you think gave you the edge over your competitors?

The finalists were all very impressive businesses. I guess one of the things is that we operate much like a start-up incorporating LEAN manufacturing principles that ensure stock is always fresh, wastage is minimal, and resources are respected and economised.

We are artisanal; having developed production processes that maintain the ability to hand blend all products in-house at scale to maintain the highest quality control and standards while providing a very personalised touch to all our customer interactions.

My professional experience as a herbalist and naturopath also provides expertise and a depth of product knowledge that sets us apart from other tea brands and organic industry partners. We can offer much more than just certified organic tea and cacao – we provide education on the source, indications and actions of key herbs and plants we use in our products as well as how to support your overall wellness journey from the inside out.

We’ve also worked extremely hard to ensure our product packaging is proudly plastic-free. We choose to seal our loose-leaf tea in home compostable plant-based cello bags and recyclable FSC certified and chlorine-free cardboard boxes. Our current refill pouches are made using plant material that can be industrially composted with a plan to move to fully home compostable pouches soon.

And our glass jars are made from biophotonic miron glass which extends the shelf life of products
and reduces the use of resources and waste as the glass is a natural product and 100% recyclable and
reusable. Our labels are printed on recyclable paper using HP eco inks.

What does being part of the organic industry mean to you?

Organic Merchant has been active within the organic industry for over 20 years with 6 years of those being a certified organic business. Being part of the industry and wider community that supports and endorses organic manufacturing and product development ultimately aligns with our goals of becoming thought leaders within the space of organic, sustainable, and regenerative wellness.

Today’s environmental experts believe that sustainability is no longer enough, and the future is in regeneration – replenishing and restoring what we have lost. By embedding regeneration into our business, we can demonstrate leadership, build long-term resilience, and fight climate change little by little.

We use every chance we get to actively inform and educate consumers about organic products and
the benefits that come with it.

What do you think consumers need to know about the organic industry?

So many things…
With the global pandemic, we have seen a huge increase in consumer demand for wellness products which naturally creates an opportunity for the organic industry to educate consumers about the health and environmental benefits of living an organic lifestyle.

There is an appetite for change and consumers are looking to businesses and brands to lead the way. However, one of the biggest challenges in the Australian organic industry is labeling laws. While the ACCC demands that brands substantiate organic claims, companies do not have to be officially certified to label their products as “organic” in Australia.

This makes it even more important for us to ensure our products carry the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) logo to show that they have been approved by the ACO certification body. Education is key to demonstrating what purchasing organic means, what consumers are paying for and why. With consumer demand growing for organic products, it is important to ensure transparency and build trust for the industry.

What’s next for Organic Merchant?

We have been working extremely hard over the last 10 years to create an organisation that is passionate and committed to leading organic, holistic, and sustainable ways of doing business in the world.

The future of Organic Merchant is as a regenerative enterprise, which operates in a way that values the whole of individuals, communities, and the planet. It is beyond sustainable, it is regenerative, and it also gives back to individuals, communities, and the planet.

Please take a look at Organic Merchant’s new website and its beautiful products. Chalimah has kindly offered 10% OFF for all LBD Members. Simply use the code LBD10 at checkout.

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