| (From left) Additional vice-president of the Indian Tea Association (ITA) K. S. David, Tea Board chairman N. K. Das and ITA chairman Bharat Bajoria at the association’s annual general meeting in Calcutta on Saturday. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury
Calcutta, Aug. 24: Having suffered a major setback in the Russian market in the first six months of the current year, the Tea Board of India has drawn up an extensive plan for promotion of Indian tea in that market.
Advertising agency HTA, with its sister organisation Mindshare, will help the Tea Board in the entire promotional exercise.
The export of Indian tea to Russia has declined by 14 million kg in the period January–June this year. Last year the industry had exported 34.93 million kgs in the first six months whereas the figure has dwindled to 20 million kgs this year.
Addressing the 119th annual general meeting of the Indian Tea Association N.K. Das, chairman of the Tea Board said, “We have drawn up an extensive plan to revive the image of Indian tea in Russia which will hit the Russian market on October 15.”
HTA has worked out a logo for Indian tea with a slogan — ‘World’s gold standard’.
Das said they had asked the commerce ministry for Rs 50 crore under the export market access scheme over a period of three years. “For the current year ending December we had asked for Rs 8 crore. The government has granted Rs 6 crore and the industry is expected to contribute Rs 2 crore towards the promotional campaign,” he said.
Even though Indian tea has lost substantial market in Russia it has captured markets in Iraq with exports going up to 15.23 million kgs as against 4 million kgs in the previous year.
The Tea Board chairman said that even though there is a stress on production of orthodox tea, there has hardly been any increase in orthodox production particularly in South India. Sri Lanka, which only produces orthodox tea is gradually capturing the world market in an aggressive manner which is emerging as a real threat to the Indian tea.
During his recent visit to the UK, Das noticed that buyers want the quality of Indian tea to improve to fetch better prices. “Unilever has decided to directly source 10-12 million kgs from India in the next two to three years,” he added.
Bharat Bajoria, chairman of Indian Tea Association said that cost reduction constitutes a vital component of the tea industry’s response to combat the current crisis in the tea. “Future wage increases must be linked with productivity and there is a need for rationalising manpower wherever possible,” he said.
The Tea Board of India has joined hands with the Sri Lankan Tea Board to jointly carry out a study on futures of tea at the Colombo auction. “It will be a great advantage to Indian tea if it is sold at the Colombo auctions through futures. The study will begin soon,” Das added.