Sri Lanka exporter warns against tea nationalism

Aug 27, 2012 (LBO) – An exporter of branded teas that has catered to emerging global consumer needs has warned that nationalism and protectionism in tea was losing Sri Lanka an opportunity to play a bigger role in the global tea industry. He said demands to ban such an export hub will require Sri Lankans to set up operations in a third country to achieve that objective.

“The tea industry in Sri Lanka has unfortunately got stuck in a time capsule and vested interests have prevailed upon decision market to adopt a protectionist policy to stop any Sri Lankan brand builder from becoming a multinational operating out of Sri Lanka,” Rohan Fernado, head of HVA Foods, told shareholders in the firm’s annual report.

“This will perhaps make Sri Lanka ship more bulk tea in the years to come and branding activities under pure Ceylon tea will be limited only to the best quality Ceylon Tea, totaling not more than 100 million kilograms of 30 percent of the national production.”

HVA Foods already makes ‘Heladiv’ branded ready to drink tea and said it is researching the sale of ready to dilute and drink (RTDD) tea.

Sri Lanka has banned the import of orthodox teas to the country using a legislating system and law enforcement systems inclu