Skip to content

Zealong celebrates Japanese train deal

Waikato’s Zealong Tea Estate has signed a deal to supply tea for a huge Japanese train line. 

The tea will be served alongside a famous Japanese cheesecake, at a café inside the Osaka train station.

The formal signing between Zealong Tea Estate and Japan Rail West Food Service Net Company (JRWFSN) took place at Zealong’s Gordonton headquarters, on Friday, 21 August.  

“Today is the start of a new journey,” said Zealong’s CEO Gigi Crawford. 

“Together we will create something truly special and something New Zealanders will be proud of.”

The deal will see Zealong and JRWFSN form a new venture inside Japan’s massive Osaka Station which will serve Zealong tea along with a famous Japanese cheesecake, under the Delicius brand.    

Delicius is a massive success story in Japan.  It started from small beginnings but now selling thousands of cheesecake slices each day.  It became part of the JR West Group in 2017. 

Speaking in Japanese, Takeshi Kitani, CEO of JR West Food Service Net, said Zealong and Delicius were the ‘perfect match.” 

“They are both committed to producing products with “real taste” by using real and pure ingredients.”

Delicius Pasticceria founder, Sueharu Nagaoka, said he had tried various teas but had never experienced tea quite like Zealong.

“The moment I tasted Zealong tea I suddenly realised that other teas had the aroma of artificial fragrances and the strange flavours of additives.”

“I want our customers to enjoy this tea,” he said.

Japan is a huge consumer of tea, so the deal marks a significant opportunity for the Waikato business.

Osaka station has approximately 2.3 million visitors passing through daily and the deal will provide significant growth opportunities for Zealong.

Present at the formal signing were dignitaries, including members of the Japan New Zealand Business Council and Waikato business and local government leaders. 

Global Covid 19 travel restrictions meant representatives from Japan could not attend, so the formalities were successfully done via video conference.   

Also speaking in Japanese, the chairman of the Japanese New Zealand Business Council, Ian Kennedy, spoke of the highly valued trade relationship between Japan and New Zealand.

“Japan is New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner with two-way trade of $9 billion in 2019,” he said.

“It’s a relationship based on trust, common values and shared interests.”

JRWFSN is a major organisation within the Japan Railways Group and is responsible for the operation of restaurants, cafes, and general food establishments within Western Japan.    It has a massive workforce of 47,800.

Zealong is New Zealand’s only commercial tea plantation producing top quality premium products that are 100 % organic. 

The deal means passengers on Japan’s railway network will enjoy tea proudly grown and processed at Zealong’s Waikato estate.  

Have a story to share?

The Waikato is full of people and businesses doing great things. Their stories help build our understanding of the strength of the Waikato and the benefits of living, studying, visiting or doing business here.