Millennium Post

Tea Board urges industry to tap China market

Kolkata: The Tea Board has urged the industry to look into the Chinese market to tap muted volumes and renewed demand for orthodox varieties in that country.

Deputy chairman and CEO of Tea Board, Arun Kumar Ray, told PTI on Tuesday: "A tea plantation business is labour intensive, and sustaining the industry in China may not be possible due to rising labour costs."

Ray said China produces about 2,500 million kg of tea annually and volumes were not rising.

"China has been traditionally consuming green tea.

But, now they are shifting to black and orthodox variety. So Indian exporters can make efforts to make inroads to China," Ray said.

He also urged the tea industry to become more cost-effective and self-sufficient. "The industry cannot look towards subsidy forever."

Earlier, speaking at the AGM of Tea Research Association (TRA), Ray said, "Subsidy would go away in the present scenario. The industry has to be competitive and cost-efficient".

Talking about TRA, a research body funded by Tea Board and the industry, he said that the entity would have to generate its own resources and cut down on costs.

"TRA should find innovative ways to generate funds and carry out specific research which the industry needs," he said. Chairman of Tea Board P K Bezbaruah said that the electronic auctioning system would be revamped for better price discovery.

"The e-auction system introduced 13 years ago did not evolve. It needs to be revamped for better price discovery. We need to have real prices. Unfortunately, tea prices seem to be suppressed and have not gone up since the last 12 years," he said. Bezbaruah added that the domestic market is buoyant and exports are doing well, but the "underlying strength" of the market is weak.

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