Ceylon Tea aims for niche markets
At a press briefing held adjunct to the inauguration, Sri Lanka Tea Board Promotions Director Hasitha De Alwis noted that Sri Lanka as a high quality producer does not prioritise on volume. “If you look at value, Sri Lanka despite exporting 300 million kilos and becoming a main exporter has earned much more foreign exchange than any other country in the world.
As a high cost, high quality producer, the priority going up the ladder is to target the niche market. Priority is not to become the biggest exporter but to become the biggest revenue earner, which we are at the moment. We need to maintain it and go higher up the ladder in value addition and brand marketing.”
De Alwis added that in general, Ceylon Tea still maintains the premium and is half a dollar ahead from other auctions. However when going deeper into the market, things have begun to change, he said. “Countries in Middle East, Gulf and N. Africa still demand Ceylon tea and are willing to pay higher prices. Similarly Russia and CIA despite all obstacles still demand Ceylon tea. Things have however changed in the western world. Europe and North America among others cannot pay high prices. We move towards markets that can pay for the premiums.” Sri Lanka’s main target is tea bags and other speciality teas.
Speaking about US going for low quality tea, De Alwis stated that 80% of all tea consumed in US are taken as ice tea which are consumed in Ready To Drink (RTD) form.