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  • Tanzania’s tea auction hopes to benefit economically and directly from local tea producers by relocating tea trading to local ports rather than routing through Mombasa.
  • The tea auctions in East and Central Africa have made African teas competitive on a worldwide scale by enforcing and maintaining quality standards.
  • Tanzania has the potential to become a global leader in the tea industry with the right mix of technology investment, and innovative product development.

With the recent success of its first tea auction in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania has taken a major stride forward in the international tea trade. More than just a business deal, the historic exchange of 65 tonnes of tea is an effort to increase local autonomy and regional clout. Tanzania hopes to benefit economically and directly from local tea producers by relocating tea trading to local ports rather than routing through Mombasa.

Tea auctions have historically sustained the worldwide tea trade since the first one in London in 1679. After achieving independence, countries like India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya set up public tea auction centres, which have since become essential to trade in tea-producing regions, including Africa. In 2017, about 77 per cent of the world’s tea was traded through auctions, demonstrating the success of these markets in facilitating consistent commerce at fair prices.

Tanzania’s tea auction vital to economy

The tea auctions in East and Central Africa are vital to the local economies. They have made African teas competitive on a worldwide scale by enforcing and maintaining rigorous quality and grading standards. The global export proportion of auction-sold tea has increased from 61.4 per cent in 2009 to 68 per cent in 2019, demonstrating the importance of updating existing systems with a shift towards digitalization and diversification to boost efficiency.

Auction-based markets can fill the void left by countries like China, which function without a public auction and instead rely on private transactions without uniform grading. The global tea market itself is moving, with traditional tea-importing countries witnessing a downturn and others like the USA, Pakistan, and Morocco enjoying rising use. The trend towards high-end, specialised teas reflects the priorities of today’s health-conscious consumers.

Tanzania’s participation in the tea auction arena is more than just a local initiative in this shifting terrain; it also represents a major shift in the global tea trade’s dynamics. It sets Tanzania up to take advantage of regional and global market opportunities, enriching the rich cultural and economic heritage of tea in the process.

Moving to bigger horizons, African nations are already creating an impact on the global tea arena, with Kenya leading the way. The continent’s teas, which are prized for their complex flavours, have attracted attention from around the world, creating a golden chance for countries like Tanzania to rise to the top of the global tea production rankings.

Variety of teas to choose from

China currently produces the most tea in the world, with a record 3.35 million metric tonnes produced in 2022 and a wide variety of teas to choose from. India, home to the world-famous Assam and Darjeeling teas, will raise its output to 1,365 million kilogrammes in 2022. The top five producers are as follows: Kenya (Africa), Sri Lanka (famous for its Ceylon tea), Vietnam (green tea), and China (black tea). The tea trade network relies heavily on the continued close ties between these countries.

By entering the tea auction market, Tanzania hopes to gain a better grasp of its place in the global tea production hierarchy, which is dominated by a small number of large firms. China, the world’s largest tea producer, produced a record-breaking 3.35 million metric tonnes of tea in 2022, showcasing the country’s rich diversity of tea types like green, black, and oolong.

China’s tea industry is an international standard in terms of size and variety, with green tea alone accounting for almost 1.85 million metric tonnes and a considerable 426,300 tonnes of post-fermented tea.

India, another tea powerhouse, is famous for its Assam and Darjeeling varieties, which are known all over the world for their rich histories and distinctive flavours. India’s production increased slightly in 2022, reaching 1,365 million kilogrammes. This was more than the previous year’s harvest, and it meant that India would continue to make a significant contribution to the world tea market.

Kenya – Africa’s premier tea producer

Kenya is widely regarded as Africa’s premier tea producer, known for its exceptional quality and flavour. Nearly 535,000 metric tonnes of tea will be produced in 2022, solidifying its position as a global powerhouse in the tea industry. Similarly, Sri Lanka’s status as a major exporter is cemented by the country’s fragrant Ceylon tea. Meanwhile, Vietnam, which specialises in green tea, increased its annual output to over 1.11 million metric tonnes of fresh tea in 2022, continuing a trend of continuous expansion in the tea industry.

These countries have long-standing trading relationships with key consumers including the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Pakistan, making them more than merely producers of tea. Tea’s unique capacity to connect cultures and economies around the world is exemplified by the alliances and trade partnerships that have developed around the beverage.

The dance of economic strategy and cultural interchange between these tea producing giants and growing markets like Tanzania is interesting to observe. With its newfound prominence, Tanzania hopes to improve not only its own economy but also the world tea trading system as a whole. Tanzania has now joined these other countries in their quest for more tea output of higher quality and greater sustainability by entering the auction market.

Read also: Sipping success: Kenya’s tea sector brews strong profits on weakening currency

Tanzania’s has potential to lead tea production globally

Tanzania should capitalise on this opportunity by investing in cutting-edge tea production and processing technologies, creating novel tea kinds, forging stronger trade linkages, pushing for sustainable practises, and rolling out effective marketing and branding initiatives.

With the adoption of these policies, the country will be in a good position to improve its economic outlook and contribute to the global tea culture in the same way that Kenya has. Tanzania has the potential to become a global leader in the tea industry with the right combination of technology investment, innovative product development, environmentally responsible business practises, and strategic advertising. This all-encompassing strategy guarantees increased prosperity and also enriches the world’s tea supply.

Tanzania, along with other African nations, is destined to redraw the contours of the global tea industry, giving a variety of flavours and experiences to tea connoisseurs throughout the world, thanks to sustained investment and innovation in the industry.

Source of original article: Industry and Trade – The Exchange (
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