United States

Bigelow Tea Hit Hard by Tariffs

Bigelow Tea's president and CEO says the tariffs against Chinese imports have cost the company around $2 million since 2017.

The ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China is creating money issues for small businesses and customers.

For 75 years, Bigelow Tea has been known for their smooth and soothing tasting tea.

But new tariffs on materials needed are impacting both the people who package and drink their products.

CEO & President Cindi Bigelow says the key to keeping their customers coming back starts with the ingredients.

“It’s all about the taste and quality and it’s a significant impact without that,” she said. “The taste that you need and the health benefits that come with our product are called volatile oils.”

In order to maintain the taste, you need a special kind of aluminum.

“It’s the thinnest gauge of aluminum available in the world and that is why we are buying from China, it’s not available in the United States,” said Bigelow. “If you don’t have the aluminum the volatile oils will escape, air will get in, moisture will get in and leak out and the taste completely deteriorates.”

The one-of-a-kind material is necessary and costly for Bigelow Tea.

“Those tariffs have impacted us over $2 million and we are a relatively small company in Connecticut,” said Bigelow. “This has caused a big hit for both consumers and our employees.”

Cindi says the impact of tariffs began in 2017 with a 22.5 percent duty, meaning taxes are imposed on consumers for imported and local goods.

“Probably a 20 to 30 cent increase per box, which is a fair amount,” said Bigelow. “That will affect this year’s bonuses for the employee’s, unfortunately pretty substantially.”

Bigelow says the company had to absorb the cost of the increases on products twice which resulted in the increases on goods.

The CEO says other small businesses are feeling the effects too and is wishing for a long-term solution.

“This is a global economy, we need to be a global economy,” said Bigelow. “A global world and working together in a cooperative way.”

Bigelow Tea says that jobs at the Fairfield-based business aren’t affected because of the tariffs.

The company’s is focusing on the best ways to move forward in case of another tariff or duty.

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