At a time when the Tea Board of India has been organizing various programmes to promote Indian tea, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and Inter-Governmental Group (IGG) are also engaged in business promotion of tea in the global market

The FAO and the IGG held an ‘inter-sessional’ two day meeting on Russian Tea at Sochi in Russia on 21 and 22 June this year.

The FAO and IGG on tea represents a forum for intergovernmental consultation and exchange on trends in production, consumption, trade, prices of tea, and regular appraisal of the global market and short-term outlook.

The group, under the FAO auspices, considers changes in national policies and examines their international effects as pertaining to the current and prospective market situation.

In particular, the IGG conducts a continuous review of short and long-term developments in production, consumption, trade and prices of tea. Almost all tea importing and exporting countries are members of the IGG.

The Secretary General of the Tea Association of India (TAI), Prabir Kumar Bhattacharjee, who attended the meeting, says the gathering highlighted the challenges and opportunities for Russia’s tea market with emphasis on best practices to harness the benefits arising from the current upward consumption trends.

“The consumer trends were underlined by Jean Luc Mastaki, Senior Economist, FAO & IGG (Secretariat Member). Mastaki stressed on the emerging tea consumer, who is more and more conscious about the history behind the sip of tea he/she enjoys. It was stated that the emerging consumption trends compel the tea industry to enhance transparency, value addition, product diversification and ‘premiumization,’ while fostering environmental and social sustainability,” he said.

According to him, as far as Russian tea is concerned, it is informed that the history of tea in Russia dates back to around 400 years when it arrived from China and in no time gained popularity, becoming a national drink for Russians. “The Russians introduced some unique and already well-known elements to the culture of tea consumption, such as a samovar, a cup holder etc,” he said.

Director General of the non-profit Russian Association of Tea and Coffee producers (called ‘Roschaykofe’), Ramaz Chanturia, informed the gathering that tea is cultivated in the northern parts of the country and that Russian tea aims to preserve the value of tea in the perception of consumer’s, while creating a sustainable chain of tea promotion from plantation to consumer with emphasis on a fair distribution of income at each stage of the tea value chain, according to the TAI Secretary General.

Notably, Russia produces almost 1 million kg of tea, but consumes 163.20 million kg by importing it from countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and China. India exported 47.56 million kg of tea to Russia and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries in the year 2017. Interestingly, small growers now contribute almost 60 per cent of world tea production.