Getting to Know Mr. Green Teaby Joe Meny
A family business for generations, Mr. Green Tea was founded by Santo Emanuele in Brooklyn, NY in 1968. With experience in the grocery and dairy industry, Santo sought to develop new flavors of ice cream to appeal to the burgeoning NYC Japanese restaurant trade.
Currently in its third generation, Mr. Green Tea still handcrafts its exotic desserts using the highest quality, all natural ingredients and has grown to be an industry leader.
We were very interested in learning more about this industry leader in the upscale ice cream market, and spent some time getting to know more about Mr. Green Tea by interviewing its Vice-President, Michael James Emanuele. Here’s what he had to say: AF: So Mr. Green Tea started in Brooklyn. That’s pretty exciting. Can you tell us who is your target market? And how far have you expanded from your roots in Brooklyn?
MJE: Being from Brooklyn is definitely something to be proud of, especially now with how “cool” it has become over the past decade or so. As a result, we are very proud of our NYC roots.
We have expanded across the entire eastern seaboard, including basically every major city from Miami to Boston has our products available in fine restaurants. Our retail line has begun to expand west, and currently goes as focas Chicago.
Our target market is the “foodie”, the 18-49 year old who cares about what they put into their body and dislikes all things “normal, boring and vanilla”.
AF: Why ice cream with an Asian emphasis? There’s a lot of ice cream out there in the market. What sets Mr. Green Tea apart from the pack?
MJE: “The founder of the company, my grandfather, Santo Emanuele, was a true entrepreneur and visionary. He saw the rise of Asian food (sushi specifically) in the late 1960’s as an opportunity. He talked to the professionals, restaurant owners who grew up in Tokyo, and developed our three signature flavors: Green Tea, Red Bean and Ginger from their input. Those flavor profiles have basically worked for us since 1968…so why change?
Yes, there is a lot of ice cream on the market, and honestly most of it isn’t really that good. It’s artificially flavored, generic and boring and, for the most part, is manufactured alongside every other generic, boring ice cream in the same century old machines and factories.
Our ice cream is manufactured using only food, no flavorings, and no chemicals, just real honest all natural food. Our milk and cream come from grass-fed cows and is artificial hormone-free. Our Tea is real green tea imported from China, our Ginger comes from a special ginger farm in Australia, and the spices for our Chai Latte ice cream come from an Indian Spice Market in New Delhi. I could go on all day. The truth is, nobody does that. Nobody goes to the lengths that we do to source our ingredients. Plus everything we make is manufactured in our brand new state-of-the-art factory that just opened earlier this year. Our factory offers the latest technology in food safety and ensures our prices are not only competitive, but often below the prices of our artificially flavored “competition”.
So to answer your question; what makes Mr. Green Tea different? Everything!”
AF: What is the company vision? Mission? What has been your greatest challenge? And how did you face it?
MJE: “A few years ago, supermarkets wanted more of the same….more sea salt caramel, more vanilla, more chocolate, because that’s what worked for them. Well, the food industry has changed tremendously in a very short period of time, and as a result, the supermarkets are scrambling to keep up with the consumer’s demand for ice cream that is unique, natural and new.
To face this challenge, we stayed our course. There was no doubt in my mind that the food industry was changing and it was only a matter of time until the supermarkets recognized it.
AF: What’s it like working for an ice cream company? Have you always had a passion for it?
MJE: I’m 100% Italian, so by nature I am a passionate person. Plus I’m a big foodie. Now combine the two and you get someone who is really passionate about what they do.
AF: We understand it’s a family business. Is that the secret to your success?
MJE: “Leaving work at the office when home, and leaving family life at home when at the office.”
AF: Can you tell our readers where they can find Mr. Green Tea ice cream? Restaurants? Supermarkets?
MJE: “Chances are if they frequent Asian restaurants often they have been eating our desserts for decades. But if they want Mr. Green Tea to enjoy at home, they can visit our “pint locator” on our website and put their zip code in to find the closest supermarket to where they live. Or, they can have pints shipped directly to their doors using our online store. Here’s our website address: http://www.mrgreentea.com/#!buy-now/cyuu
AF: Lastly, you must have a favorite flavor of your own…can you tell us what it is and why?
MJE: “That’s easy, Green Tea, of course. First, and most importantly, it’s so delicious… but also because it pays the bills! Green Tea outsells all of our other incredible flavors by a 5:1 ratio, which is astonishing considering how unique and amazing all of our other flavors are. Simply stated, without Green Tea there is no Mr. Green Tea!”
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