Kochi: The International Tea Producers Forum (ITPF) is looking at promoting production of higher quality orthodox tea varieties and ways to increase domestic consumption in an effort to stem the global oversupply of the beverage, a top official of the inter-governmental body said.
The forum is also encouraging tea producing nations to diversify into products such as tea biscuits, based on consumer preferences, Dunstan M. Ngumo, chairman of ITPF, said in an interview on 19 February. Ngumo was in Kochi for the India International Tea Convention from 19-21 February, organized by Tea Board of India, a government trade promotion body, and the United Planters’ Association of Southern India, a planters’ lobby group.
Globally, production of black tea, the most popular type, has increased to about 2.4 million tonnes (mt), whereas consumption has remained stagnant at about 2.1mt, said Ngumo, who is also the chairman of the Tea Board of Kenya.
India is the largest producer of black tea. Its production rose to 981 million kg in 2008 from 947 million kg in the previous year. India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia and Bangladesh account for nearly 80% of global tea production.
Basudev Banerjee, chairman of the Tea Board of India, said there’s no problem of oversupply of the drink in India.
An ongoing massive re-plantation programme at old tea estates in the country will reduce production by about 35 million kg. At the same time, domestic consumption has increased by 4% in the fiscal year 2009, he added.
Nearly 75% of the tea produced in India is consumed locally, but per capita consumption is a mere 0.65kg. Per capita consumption in Kenya is 0.4kg, Ngumo said.
One way to encourage tea consumption, he suggested, would be to produce more of the higher quality orthodox varieties such as Assam tea.