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Smell the tea! Board brews campaign for more sips

A move to make you drink more tea is afoot.

The Indian Tea Association, an organisation of tea planters, wants to launch an extensive campaign across the country in a bid to boost its consumption.

The campaign, likely to be launched in May this year, would be held in 10 second-tier cities of the country. It will be called the Indian Tea Carnival.

“The domestic consumption of tea is on the rise but there is still a huge scope to augment the per capita consumption of tea, which is around 750gms in our country,” said A.N. Singh, chairman of the association.

The Indian per capita consumption is less than Pakistan’s, which is 1kg, he added.

The tea carnival, he said, has been planned in 10 second-tier cities, mostly in eastern and northern India. The event will also take place in Ahmedabad, Pune and Hyderabad. The target: schoolchildren, housewives and youths.

“Schoolchildren are prospective tea drinkers. If the beverage can be popularised among them, the domestic production would shoot up. Also, homemakersand youths would be brought within the ambit of the campaign through events and competitions to be held in each of these 10 cities. Educational hubs such as Pune, which have several institutions for children, adolescents and youths, can be our target areas,” said Singh, also the managing director Goodricke, a tea major having gardens in Dooars, Darjeeling and Assam.

Events like tea-tasting and competitions like tea brewing, sit and draw competitions and slogan-writing have been planned. Exhibition and sale of different varieties of brews produced in India would be part of the events.

“We have placed a proposal of Rs 4 crore before the tea board to initiate the campaign. The campaign is likely to be launched in May this year. It will be the first-of-its-kind B2C (business to consumer) campaign in the domestic arena where we planters will directly reach the consumers,” Singh said.

According to the industry, the production of tea, particularly of the CTC variety which meets most of the domestic demand, is on the rise.

In the current year, as per the data available with the tea board, around 315 million kg of tea has been produced in north Bengal in 2013 while the Indian tea production crossed the 1,200 million kg mark. In 2012, the total production was around 1,100 million kg.

“On one side, new international markets are to be identified where CTC tea can be exported and on the other hand, a thrust should be put to augment domestic tea consumption. This two-fold strategy is required to prevent lowering of prices because of over-supply of tea,” sources said.

“Otherwise, if prices come down, there is always a risk that the tea industry might face another economic slump as in the late nineties and the early years of the last decade when several tea estates had closed down.”

The tea board has launched its campaign throughout India through advertisements in the print and electronic media. It had also put up hoardings and banners to make people aware of the health benefits and other advantages of tea.

“The campaign, however, had a lukewarm response. If the planters have planned another campaign with events and local participation of consumers ranging from youths to schoolchildren to housewives, it can prove effective,” said Samir Roy, a senior trade union leader.