May 28, 2018 (LBO) – 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.
Releasing a new report about global tea consumption and production, Food and Agriculture Organization’s Intergovernmental Group (IGG) on Tea, revealed that China would reach the output levels of Kenya, the largest black tea exporter in the world over the next decade.
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, however, warned producers of climate change threat to tea production as 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.
“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,” the report said.
“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, therefore, urges tea-producing countries to integrate climate change challenges, both on the adaptation and mitigation front, into their national tea development strategies.
While world tea consumption has increased over the last decade, traditional importing European countries, with the exception of Germany, have seen a decline in consumption levels, the report said.
“Overall, the European tea market is largely saturated. Per capita consumption has been declining for more than a decade, facing competition from other beverages, particularly bottled water,”
“Over the next decade, Western countries, in general, are expected to see lower consumption growth.”
In the UK, for instance, tea consumption is projected to decrease as black tea struggles to maintain consumers’ interest amid increased competition from other beverages, including coffee.
The report argues that the decline in tea consumption in the traditional European markets could be stalled or even reversed by diversifying into other segments, such as organic and specialty teas, and by promoting their health and wellbeing benefits.
“The strategy of promoting the health benefits of tea has also proved effective for other markets,” the report highlighted.
“For example, loose-leaf tea is seeing new growth in the United States, not least because of increased public health consciousness.”
The report, which was finalized by IGG, at its biennial meeting in Hangzhou, China, suggests that tea consumption has also benefited from increased awareness about 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.
Read the full report here.