Sri Lanka tea exporter presses for imports for blending

Mar 09, 2011 (LBO) – Finlays Colombo has urged Sri Lankan authorities to allow more tea imports for blending saying it could lose market share by not catering to growing consumer demand for multi-origin blended teas. Chairman Kumar Jayasuriya said the firm, part of the UK’s Swire group, has been lobbying along with other tea exporters to allow the importation of orthodox teas for blending and value addition.

Jayasuriya said they had “steadfastly” remained loyal to the promotion of ‘pure Ceylon Tea’ which all brands it exports to around the world exclusively contain.

“It is increasingly becoming difficult for us not to introduce blends under the same brands, which contain teas of other origins,” he told shareholders in the company’s annual report for 2010.

“There is a definite consumer pull from a segment of the market which requires a multi-origin blend, both from the point of view of demand stemming at a different (and lower) price level, as well as due to the proliferation of such blends being marketed under multi-national brands.”

The absence of a multi-origin blend under Finlays own brand to compete with such brands, can “fast lead to an erosion of our market share and is a risk we cannot affor