Indian Tea Association, the leading and premier Association of tea producers reached out to lovers of tea worldwide virtually by organising a Webinar to celebrate the International Tea Day, an annual event of the United Nations Calendar which was observed on 21st May this year.
The Webinar organised in two parts viz “Sustainability – Way Forward for Inclusive Development” and “Indian Tea – A Leading global beverage“ had panel discussions featuring experts on the subjects of sustainability and tea marketing from the Government, UNICEF, various organizations covering US, UK, Russia, Malaysia, Egypt and of course the host country, India.
Indian tea industry’s persistent emphasis on sustainability across the value chain from the bush to cup was elaborately deliberated in the first session of the Webinar which had a wide ranging discussions and Q&A sessions on an array of sustainability issues encompassing economic, social and environmental challenges being faced by the sector. The deliberations covered stagnant prices, adversities posed by climate change such as flood erosion and water logging and their redressal measures also figured in the panel discussions participated by Nayantara Palchoudhuri, Vice Chairperson ITA , Dr J.B Ekka, Principal Secretary , Labour & Welfare Dept, Govt of Assam, Will Battle, Managing Director Fine Tea Merchants Ltd, UK, Dr. Shathadru Chattopadhayay – Managing Director Solidaridad Asia, Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty, President Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Associations (CISTA), Dr. Madhulika Jonathan – Chief of UNICEF Assam and North East India, Dr. Barbel Weiligmann – Senior Advisor for Workforce Nutrition (GAIN), Rathin Chatterjee, Consulting Chartered Engineer RNC Consultancy Services and Kirtiman Awasthi – Senior Policy Advisor, Climate Change GIZ India.
Ms Nayantara Palchoudhuri Vice Chairperson, ITA gave a presentation on the sustainability challenges confronting the tea sector. The presentation laid down the ITA Vision for ensuring a sustainable future for the tea industry covering the following :
v Drive Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives for Tea Industry stakeholders.
v Strive for a fair price for Indian Tea, promote domestic consumption and increase global footprints through more exports.
v Pledge to adhere to food safety norms, protection of human rights, protection of the environment and the bio- diversity of the region.
v Improve the quality of lives of our workforce with focus on women.
v Address climate change issues through reduction of carbon emissions and promotion of clean energy initiatives.
v Work in conformity with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
v Strive for a closer Government – Industry Partnership
“The industry’s commitment to ethically produced teas that are aligned to the “UN Sustainable Developmental Goal is unwavering. Sustainability challenges however have to be addressed collectively by all stakeholders to keep the industry viable” said Ms Nayantara Palchoudhuri, Vice Chairperson, ITA while speaking at the meeting.
It is notable that in its war against the Covid 19 menace, the members of ITA in both Assam and WB have spontaneously responded with seamless adoption of new normals and adherence to safety protocols even before the pandemic had hit India in March 2020 and since then the industry has sustained its drive relentlessly sparing no efforts at ensuring safety of its workforce, their families as well during all stages of production from plucking to packaging and thereafter all along the value chain to the point of sale. The adherence levels in tea gardens have since been lauded by the State Governments and other reputed agencies.
The second session commenced with a presentation on export prospects by ITA chairman, Mr Vivek Goenka. The Industry is focussed on harnessing its export potential in markets where the prospects of Indian teas appear significantly bright.
India makes 1400 million kg of tea in North & South India. It is the largest black tea producer and second largest overall tea producer in the world. India’s tea exports is around 250 mkg and total consumption is around 1100 mkg which is steadily increasing @2.32% every year.
Tea Board commissioned a pan India study in 2018. Findings of the study are interesting :
· Large population around 64% of total population drink Tea
· However, per head consumption is only 786 mkg which is low in compare to many countries like UK, Ireland, Turkey, etc. So there is need to promote tea to reach this phd consumption to at least 1 kg per year.
· In India ‘at home’ consumption is high compared to ‘out of home’ consumption
· One interesting feature is that consumers are ready to pay more for a good cup of tea. They are ready to pay Rs 100/kg more to get their good tea from the same brand
· Tea has many health benefits which consumers are not aware. In this Covid pandemic ITA has initiated tea promotion in social media and highlighting such health benefits.
Indian tea is exported to around 100 countries and major markets are Russia, Iran, USA, UK, UAE, China, etc. In 2019 Iran emerged as the largest destination of Indian tea, followed by Russia. India is poised to recover the lost exports in 2021 and geared to take it to a new high.
India produces wide varieties of tea which caters to its vast domestic need as well as service the global market. It has sufficient surplus tea to service export markets at all price points. It has sufficient EU, Codex, etc compliant teas to service the global market. ITA takes leading role promoting Indian tea exports to the global market and has led many trade delegations to key markets from time to time. This has yielded positive results – from sub-200 mkg few years back, Indian tea export has increased to 250 mkg.
“It’s significant that despite the impediments induced by the pandemic and global fall in exports, the Indian Tea Association has been continuing to reach out to newer markets and sustaining the prospects of boosting exports in alignment with the National policy of more exports and thus bridging the trade gap” said Vivek Goenka, Chairman ITA.
The panelists in the second session comprised Mr. Peter F. Goggi–President Tea Association of the USA, Mr. Ramaz Chanturiya – Director, Rustea Coffee Association Russia, Mr. Liew Choon Kong – President, Tea Trade Association of Malaysia, Mr. Yahya Beyad – Chairman Britannia Tea Company Limited UK and Mr. Mahmoud Heiza – Tea Consultant Egypt.