Indian Tea Board trying to open up more African markets

July 26th, 2009 - 3:50 pm ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, July 26 (IANS) Having helped promote Indian teas in North Africa with Egypt as a major market, the Tea Board of India is now looking at heading south of the continent through South Africa.

“We are trying to diversify our markets as far as possible,” said Tea Board chairman Basudeb Banerjee at the end of the South African International Trade Exhibition (SAITEX) here.

“For the past five to seven years, India’s tea industry has been trying to locate newer markets. Previously we were dependent on markets such as Russia and the UK, but today we have better export markets because of diversification,” Banerjee told IANS.

Maintaining that Indian tea exports to South Africa were “very meagre” at the moment, Banerjee added: “South Africans consume about 20 million kilograms of tea of quite high quality annually, so this is an advanced market which we are trying to break into.”

He also identified Egypt as India’s biggest market in Africa at the moment, saying exports to that country had risen from two million kilograms four years ago to close to 15 million kilograms.

Commenting on the fact that exhibitors were displaying mostly speciality teas at SAITEX, Banerjee said: “It’s not as if we are not looking at bulk exports, we are concentrating on speciality organic and other teas as well.”

As for the rest of Africa, Banerjee said the Tea Board was also looking to Libya as a potential major market in North Africa.

One of the most popular and attractive stalls was that of Hasmukh Shah of Premier’s Tea Ltd, who told IANS the company had a very good response not only at SAITEX but also from potential buyers in Durban earlier.

“Everybody is complaining that they are not getting good tea in South Africa, and we are now trying to offer them the range of over 40 flavours from Premier which we export to 26 countries from our own plant in Kolkata,” Shah said.

“We are looking for a good distributor who will be able to take our range of teas to discerning tea lovers throughout Africa.”

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