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DateLine Sunday, 17 February 2008

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Sharp growth in Lanka's tea exports to China

Ceylon Tea performed exceptionally well in the Chinese market and achieved a remarkable growth of more than 65% compared to the previous year's exports. Although China is a huge market with more than 1.3 billion people, predominately users of green tea and Oolong tea, China has been identified as very promising emerging market for Black Tea.

Their demand for beverages is higher with the growth of their per capita income. The startling growth of Ceylon Tea Export to the Chinese market can be attributed to the enthusiasm and efforts of the Ceylon Tea Exporters who were guided and coordinated by the Embassy of Sri Lanka in China and the Tea Promotion unit of the Sri Lanka Tea Board in Japan targeting an intense promotion of Ceylon Tea in the Chinese market.

Commonly known as red tea (hong cha), black tea accounts for a mere 1-2 per cent of China's huge RMB 80 billion tea market. But innovative flavours and modern packaging are winning new consumers from the younger generation.

The results clearly show that though black Tea consumption though a new experience, it is becoming more and more popular in China.

The volume, which was 172 tons in 2003, jumped to 456 tons in 2004, 478 MT in 2005, 588 MT in 2006 and a record 880 MT up to Nov ember 2007, thus showing signs that it may reach 1000 MT once the data for December is released.

As a result of the continuous efforts of the Sri Lankan officials, adjustments were made to the tariff regulations by the Chinese Customs with regard to Ceylon Tea gave a much needed boost for the growth of Export flow in the latter part of the year and now Ceylon Tea exports enjoy a preferential Tariff rate of 7.5% under APTA as against the general tariff of 15% to China.

The embassy, together with the Tea Promotion Unit of the Sri Lanka Tea Board based in Japan facilitated the participation of Sri Lanka tea exporters' at several high profile trade fairs held in main cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Kunming to promote Ceylon Tea.

World of Food China, FHC Beijing and Shanghai, Beijing Tea Expo, Tianjing Shopping Festival and the South Asian Commodity Fair Beijing, all offered excellent opportunities for the Ceylon Tea to be promoted in the rapidly growing Hospitality and Retail markets in China.

Sri Lanka reaped many positive responses during the first ever South Asia Commodity Fair, which was held from December 28-30, 2007, at the Beijing Exhibition and Convention Centre.

A record number of Tea Exhibitors/Companies (13) displayed Ceylon Tea at the Sri Lanka pavilion at the fair, attracting a host of opportunities for Sri Lankan exporters to penetrate the Chinese market.

During the China Tea Expo-Beijing Sri Lanka presentation won the best Cultural presentation for demonstrating the making of 'Ceylon Tea' depicting a traditional Sri Lankan family.

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