Tea Board leans on domestic market as export prospects dim over Coronavirus

Industry officials say a major problem is the way many Indians make tea. They say even if the finest leaves are given to people, good taste cannot be obtained — the tea is often under-brewed or over-brewed.
With a potential fall in export due to the coronavirus outbreak and other factors, the Tea Board is trying to boost consumption at home. 

 

“A campaign to showcase Assam tea has been rolled out in Odisha and more such will come up in major tea-consuming states shortly,” A K Ray, deputy chairman, told Business Standard.

 

States on this list include Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Haryana. “We will promote consumption of good quality tea in these states and are collaborating with industry bodies in this,” Ray said.

 

For instance, the Board is collaborating with the Guwahati Tea Auction Committee (GTAC) for outreach programmes in Odisha, UP, and Bihar. Private tea packeteers are also being brought in, in the effort to educating people about the benefits of tea and how to make a higher quality beverage.

 

On the latter point, industry officials say a major problem is the way many Indians make tea. They say even if the finest leaves are given to people, good taste cannot be obtained —  the tea is often under-brewed or over-brewed.

 

“This campaign also stresses on how to make teas. In Odisha, for instance, people had heard of Assam tea but were unaware of its availability,” Dinesh Bihani, secretary at Guwahati Tea Auction Buyers Association, told this publication.

 

The virus outbreak has already hit shipment to Iran, a major buyer. Japan has cancelled a scheduled exhibition of Indian teas. Exports to West Asia is hit due to ongoing geopolitical tension; those to Britain are down with the Brexit uncertainty. And, because of souring relations with Pakistan, less shipment — our neighbour was earlier our fourth largest export market.

 

Ray and the Indian Tea Association, the industry body, says our country also has over-production this year.

 

Game plan

  • Tea Board has undertaken a pan-India promotional exercise to boost domestic consumption
  • A 30-50 mkg consumption boost can mitigate potential export losses to an extent
  • Coronavirus, Brexit, and political situation in West Asia have hit India’s key export markets
  • Tea Board pushing for quality tea consumption 
  • Domestic tea consumption boost can increase tea prices


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