Tea Board of India expects the country’s tea exports to grow to nearly 300 million kg (mkg) in the next three to five years. Tea export is likely to touch 240 mkg in FY-23, backed by a good demand from existing markets and addition of some of the lesser explored ones.

According to Saurav Pahari, Chairman and Deputy Chairman, Tea Board, India is “quite capable” of filling the gap created in the global market due to the ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka. “We are looking at an export-led growth and aiming to achieve close to 300 mkg exports in the next five years. Quality will play a huge role in this. We want to compete aggressively with Kenya and Sri Lanka. Our orthodox production is good enough to cater to the markets,” Pahari told the media at an event held on Saturday as part of International Tea Day, organised by the Tea Board in collaboration with Indian Tea Association(ITA).

Exploring target markets

India exported close to 195 mkg of tea in 2021 as the payment issue in Iran and the high freight charges and poor availability of containers impacted exports. The country exported close to 256 mkg of tea in 2019, which was among the highest in recent times.  “We are exploring target markets (for ramping up exports) such as North America, Western Europe, Canada and South Korea among others. Once the geo-political situation improves, exports would not just bounce back to pre pandemic levels but grow at a much higher pace,” he said.

The industry expects orthodox tea producers to benefit from the lower crop in Sri Lanka, both in terms of volume and value of exports, particularly to countries such as Iraq, Iran, CIS (mainly Russia) and the UAE.

Tea Board would also work closely with the industry to ramp up domestic consumption of tea. The aim would be to make tea more appealing for the younger population. “One of the main thrust areas of our promotional activities would be improving domestic consumption by at least 30 per cent moving forward,” he said.

Focus on sustainability

According to Nayantara Palchoudhuri, Chairperson, ITA, sustainability of the tea sector is no longer just about profitability but also about the wellbeing of all stakeholders. Remunerative tea prices for producers are extremely critical for long term sustainability of the industry. “The oversupply situation prevailing in the market needs to be addressed through generic promotion, product innovation and value addition,” she said.