Strong demand in China, India boost tea consumption and production

Rome, May 28: Global tea consumption and production will keep rising over the next decade, driven by robust demand in developing and emerging countries, notably China and India, according to a new report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation Intergovernmental Group.

Tea consumption has grown particularly rapidly in China, India and other emerging economies, driven by a combination of higher incomes and efforts to diversify production to include speciality items such as herbal teas, fruit fusions and flavoured gourmet teas, according to the report.

The buoyant tea market will create new rural income opportunities and improve food security in tea-producing countries, it said.

The report, which was finalised in China’s Hangzhou suggests that tea consumption has also benefited from increased awareness of the beverage’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and weight loss effects.

“Such health and wellbeing benefits are seen as the key drivers of future consumption growth,” FAO said.

World production of black tea is projected to rise annually by 2.2 percent over the next decade to reach 4.4 million tonnes in 2027, reflecting major output increases in China, Kenya and Sri Lanka – with this China would reach the output levels of Kenya, the largest black tea exporter in the world, the report forecasts.

Global output of green tea is foreseen to increase at an even faster rate of 7.5 percent annually to reach 3.6 million tonnes in 2027, largely driven by China, where the production of green tea is expected to more than double from 1.5 million tonnes in 2015-2017 to 3.3 million tonnes in 2027. The report also warns that tea production is highly sensitive to changes in growing conditions.

“Tea can only be produced in narrowly defined agro-ecological conditions and, hence, in a very limited number of countries, many of which will be heavily impacted by climate change,” FAO said.

Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns, with more floods and droughts, are already affecting yields, tea product quality and prices, lowering incomes and threatening rural livelihoods. These climate changes are expected to intensify, calling for urgent adaptation measures. In parallel, there is a growing recognition of the need to contribute to climate change mitigation, by reducing carbon emissions from tea production and processing. The report urges tea-producing countries to integrate climate change challenges, both on the adaptation and mitigation front, into their national tea development strategies. (IANS)