There is a need for an image makeover for the tea, particularly to attract the young generations towards the hot cuppa, said President of the Tea Association of India (TAI) Mudit Kumar on Saturday.

Addressing the 34th biennial general meeting of the Tea Association of India, Assam branch (TAIAB), he said there is a need to promote the drink as an aspirational consumption experience.

“We had been marketing tea as a cheap drink. It needs an image makeover now, particularly to attract the younger generations apart from the old by promoting it as an aspirational experience. We need a sustained, well-planned generic promotion. The Tea Board, as the custodian of the Indian Tea Brand could own and lead this effort, while involving the different links in the supply chain as stakeholders,” Kumar added.

Kumar also mooted the idea of promotion of tea on social media to make it more targeted and cost-effective.

He said that the average realisation price of Assam Tea as reflected at auctions has not shifted significantly from 2013-2014 levels.

“While it was Rs 149.49 in 2013, it stands at Rs 153.14 in 2017. It was also mentioned that the size of the organised sector is shrinking. It was 74 per cent in the year 2010 and it stands at 53 per cent now,” Kumar said.

“Indian tea exports till November 2018 suggests that the total exports should be in the region of 260 MKg (million kilogram) compared to 252 MKg in 2017. The foreign revenue earning has also increased to Rs 4,624.34 crore from Rs 4,478.24 crore last year.

“The CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States — an alliance of former Soviet republics) countries, Russia, Iran, Egypt comprise the main destinations for Indian teas but the uncertainty hovering over the method of payment in the export of orthodox teas to Iran has shown a sharp dip during the months of July to October,” said Kumar.

While India sees a drop in imports from Russia, it hopes to see demand growing from neighbouring China and Pakistan. Indian exports have not grown significantly. However, the increase in-between the years 2013 and 2017 when the exports grew from 225 MKgs to 252 Mkgs augurs well for the future, he said.