Tea in the News Week Ending 24 July 2016

Tuesday, 26/07/2016 02:08

world tea newsIf no news is good news then we can all sit down and relax with a nice cuppa this week.  Here is the best I could find.

The Business Standard reports how the proposed Goods and Services Tax will increase prices for Indian tea drinkers by 5 to 6 per cent.  If they knew their history they would know that revolutions have been started for less.  The same publication also tells us how buyers in Kerala are boycotting the new mandatory nationwide e-auction system causing a stockpile of tea, falling prices and a cashflow problem for growers.  It is not clear from the report as to reason for the boycott but talks between the disputing parties have been ordered by the High Court.  The same story is picked up by the New Indian Express which explains how the boycott hits the small farmer particularly hard.  According to reports tea prices in South India have fallen to a paltry INR 95 per kilogram (USD1.41).

Meanwhile in Kenya the industrial dispute over pay continues.  Workers were awarded a 30% pay increase by the courts but employers (mainly multinationals tea businesses such as Unilever) are refusing to pay up claiming that "it is not sustainable".  Tea workers are said to currently earn a minimum of USD 98 per month.

The other looming threat to harmony in the Kenyan tea industry is the introduction of technology for plucking tea with worker's unions looking to have such machines outlawed.

On the lighter side there is a nice overview of Chinese tea drinking traditions in the Jakarta Post.  Many of the tea customs and traditions in Vietnam have their roots in China but without much of the mystique.

On the product marketing and retail front I picked up on a report of Sri Lankan based Dilmah tea opening a very attractive looking tea lounge in Delhi while UK based We Are Tea have launched a range of "nutritionist-approved ‘super teas’" (whatever they are!).  This is a company that I generally admire but on this occasion I am led to wonder whether the Emperor really does have any clothes.