‘Global tea output to touch 4 billion kg by 2010’

By Aroonim Bhuyan, IANS

Dubai : World tea production will maintain its healthy growth in the next four years and touch the four-billion-kg mark by 2010, according to a leading industry expert.

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“World tea production reached an estimated 3.6 billion kilos at the end of 2006, with markets such as Kenya, India and Sri Lanka driving this robust growth,” Kaison Chang, senior economist for commodities at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said at the 2nd Global Dubai Tea Forum 2008, which started here Tuesday.

“We expect tea production to maintain healthy growth levels over the next four years and surpass the 4-billion-kilo mark in 2010.”

India is among 29 countries participating in this biennial two-day event organised by the Dubai Tea Trading Centre (DTTC).

Around 40 companies from India are showcasing their products.

According to Kaison, demand for tea has risen significantly around the world, with India and China alone recording 42 percent of market share in global tea consumption.

“China’s consumption, in fact, has doubled in the past 10 years,” he said.

Chief executive of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) David Rutledge called for the development of a tea futures market.

He said that by locking in forward prices for at least two years, market participants are able to benefit from increased cash-flow predictability as well as improved increase to finance.

“While a tea futures market is an adjunct to the physical market and not a substitute for it, participants will nevertheless realize direct economic benefits, including improved price discovery and dissemination, allowing them to make clearer stockholding decisions and more efficiently share risk,” the DMCC chief said.

“Challenges to establishing a tea futures market do exist, of course, but if the industry demonstrates the will to bring such a market to life, everyone in this global trade will share the benefits,” he said.

In his keynote address, Dubai World Secretary General Farid Mohammed Ahmed, while underlining Dubai’s geographical and infrastructural advantages for the global tea trade, said that this west Asian metropolis was located at a strategic crossroads between East and West and had long served as a gateway for the trade.

“Driven by a diverse economy, Dubai is in the midst of a period of dramatic growth averaging around 10 percent for the past five years. The emirate’s GDP growth is estimated to reach $108 billion by 2015, with per capita income of $44,000,” he said.

“Trade through the emirate represented 80 percent of the UAE’s $233 billion foreign trade in 2006.”

According to executive chairman of DMCC Ahmed bin Sulayem, tea trade transacted through DTTC has witnessed year-on-year growth, recording 5.2 million kg in 2007, up from 4.3 million kg in 2006.

Total tea imports into Dubai touched 96.6 million kg in 2007.

The inaugural day also featured insights into tea consumption trends in Africa, Europe and America.

Chief executive of International Tea Committee Manuja Peiris elaborated on various economic and social factors, such as food price inflation and worker welfare, which would have a bearing on the global tea trade and consumption patterns.

Among other highlights of the event were a tea-tasting session of Darjeeling teas and a tea competition among south Indian teas, organised by the United Planters Association of Southern India and the Tea Board of India, for the annual Golden Leaf India awards.