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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 12:46 GMT
India plans tea campaign
An Indian tea picker
India hopes to sell on quality rather than price
India is planning an aggressive marketing drive in an attempt to increase tea exports by 50% over the next five years.

The country is the world's biggest producer of tea, growing about 870 million kilogrammes a year.

But exports dropped to 180 million kilogrammes last year, down from the recent average of 200 million, pushing India down below Sri Lanka, China and Kenya on the export markets.

Now, Tea Board India chairman Naba Kumar Das has said he plans to boost exports to 275 million kilogrammes by 2007.

Targeting markets

The main thrust of the Tea Board's campaign, Mr Das said, will be to target key countries.

Russia is far and away India's biggest market, but the Board thinks there is little room for growth there.

Instead it intends to focus its efforts on the UK, the Middle East, and Afghanistan.

Consumption of Indian tea is small but growing quickly in parts of the Arab world, while in tea-loving Britain, consumers have lost their traditional thirst.

Mr Das said that the Board had formed a number of task forces to spearhead regional sales drives, and that it would be engaging the services of outside consultants to examine promotional activities and pricing policies.

Quality, not quantity

One of India's key problems on the export market has been its inability to compete consistently on price.

Producers such as Vietnam, China and Indonesia have ramped up output in recent years, and are capable of undercutting India.

At the same time, India's traditional political links with Russia and the UK have slackened, eroding its dominance in its core markets.

As a result, India has decided to compete on quality. In the UK, for example, the Tea Board has entered into partnerships with upmarket retailers such as Selfridges and Harrods, as well as signing cooperation deals with biscuit and food companies.

See also:

08 Mar 02 | Business
Indian tea growers push 'quality'
05 Mar 02 | Business
Kenyan tea prices fall again
01 Feb 02 | Business
Sri Lanka tops tea sales
29 Jan 02 | Business
Bangladesh tea exports fall
19 Dec 01 | Business
Falling demand hits Indian tea
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