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avatar for Jem McDowall

Jem McDowall

Universal Commodities (Tea) Trading, Inc.
Vice President
Jem McDowall is Vice-President at Universal Commodities, New York. Jem started his career in 1984 joining Lipton in London. After six years in Sri Lanka and Malawi as a buyer-exporter, he moved to a development role for markets as diverse as Morocco and Uzbekistan, finally managing the marketing of Unilever-Brooke Bond estate teas from Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi, before joining Universal in 2000.

Highlights from his travels include croquet with Peter Goggi at Namingomba, Malawi and meeting President Mandela on a plane destined for Karachi. He has talked tea on Israeli tv with a couple who married while skydiving, and posed for photos in Tokyo with some friendly Yakuzas who enjoyed tea.

An advocate of sustainability, Jem was instrumental in creating the Sustainability Awards in 2016, and sits on the US and Canadian Association Committees. He has chaired the Malawi Tea and Coffee Merchants Association and sits on the US Tea Association Board. Outside tea, Jem officiated the sport of rugby to international level until his legs told him to retire. A distant descendant of Robert Fortune, tea is in his blood!