Indian ambassador to Italy and its permanent representative to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Reenat Sandhu, said on Thursday there is a dire need to reposition tea among the younger generation, which was more important in the current context.
Sandhu made the statement during a webinar organised by FAO on International Tea Day, which was attended by experts from around the world. Many programmes were organised in India on the occasion. However, the Jorhat e-auction could not take place owing to connectivity issues and will take place on Friday.
India had proposed International Tea Day celebration on October 16, 2015, at Milan during the intersessional meeting of FAO inter-governmental group. This year, it was accepted by the UN General Assembly.
Sandhu said the preferred beverage for the millennials is changing and in most cases, tea was not their natural choice. “It may be partly because tea industry is not keeping pace with innovative forms or availability of more choices in terms of herbals/infusions and other competing beverages. We have seen most traditional organisations dealing in tea in Europe and America have changed the name of their organisations to include herbals and infusions. This is a disturbing trend and so the need to reposition tea among our young friends is even more important in the current context,” she said.
“In India, where we have a very young population, the growth of tea consumption among youth is very sluggish. The per capita consumption of tea has slowly inched towards 786gm from around 715gm a few years back. In traditional tea drinking countries like the United Kingdom, we have seen there has been a substantial decline in tea consumption. A few months back, we read about one of the most old and established companies, managing some very popular brands, deciding to take a re-look at staying invested in the tea business,” she said.
“These are signals warning us to do course a correction before it’s too late to change. There is an oversupply situation of tea globally which is leading to depressed or stagnant markets. All these developments, along with the lack of innovation in products, and the power to draw the attention of the young population have brought the global tea industry into a tight spot,” she said.
She said the observance of International Tea Day, dedicated to bring out the inherent goodness of tea, more so among the young population, is very important. “I am happy that India is observing the first International Tea Day with many events highlighting the goodness of tea and are engaging the younger generation through various social media platforms. I hope and pray the movement gains strength with each passing year, giving a much-needed push to the global tea industry,” she added.
She said as one fights climate change effects, the tea gardens all over the world stand as an oasis of greenery, as it contributes towards making our planet cleaner.
“Tea plantations mimic agro-forestry with its three layers of vegetation and contribute greatly towards sequestering carbon from the environment. As there is a race towards urbanisation globally, the tea industry distinctly stands out in providing economic activity, livelihood and a better quality of life in rural settings. The small tea growers’ movement in India, which started in the late eighties, is the best example of improving the economic condition in rural areas,” she added.