Guwahati: Teas produced in Northeast India would be promoted as a brand now.

Official sources said the Centre has conveyed its approval for the Tea Board’s Scheme “Tea Development & Promotion Scheme” for implementation during the 15th Finance Commission 2021-26 which includes a specific action plan for Northeast.

The details of the scheme have now been made public.

The Board says there is very little value addition or brand building at the manufacturers’ level for tea sold in domestic and export markets. “For Indian tea to be the customers’ first choice, it is essential that brand building is done and managed,” it says.

Strong branding can make Indian teas stand out in the competition from other producing countries with a potential to imbibe emotional association with the end-consumers and enhanced price realisation from them.

The objective is to raise awareness levels and generic promotion and brand building of the fine teas with distinct characteristics produced in the NER under the overarching umbrella of Indian Tea so that the teas become the consumers’ first choice and ensure remunerative returns to manufacturers so that they can sustain the workforce and produce sustainably.

The range of teas in the NE is distinctive and diversified including good quality CTC, Orthodox and Green teas from Assam, Orthodox teas from Sikkim and CTC teas from Tripura each having its characteristics. Besides speciality teas are also being manufactured by small tea growers such as white tea, Oolong tea etc.

“It is essential that generic promotion of tea from the North East as a whole and very focused promotion highlighting these different types of teas be undertaken. This is important because the teas from the North East are highly sought after by discerning consumers from India and abroad,” it says.

The Board says while the technical knowledge can be provided by the Tea Board, the actual work of brand building will have to be outsourced to the best professionals including advertising consultants, media planners, marketing communication advisors, communication and brand strategy experts for various promotional projects for both overseas and domestic markets having extensive international and national networking across all media partners.

“The main part of the campaign will be done through social media,” it says. “Since this involves the overall mandate of the Board and cannot be done in isolation, Promotion Directorate at Boards Head Office will draw up implementable plans and programs with approval of the Deputy Chairman,” it says.

The tea industry has been appealing to the Govt of India to provide sufficient funds for the generic promotion of tea in the domestic market. “If we can increase the per capita consumption of tea in India by another 70 gms then 50% of the challenges faced by the Indian tea industry will be over,” Sunil Jallan of North Eastern Tea Association( NETA) said at the 20th biennial general meeting of the association held recently in Guwahati.

He said NETA wants tea to be promoted as a health and lifestyle beverage. “We do not want the tea to be promoted only as a health drink – it should not look like some kind of medicine or vitamin,” he said. Ready-to-drink (RTD) tea, Ice tea with different flavours etc are likely to attract youths towards tea drinking.

Tea Board had engaged Deloitte Touchѐ Tohmatsu India LLP to do a study on “Domestic Consumption of Tea in India” and as per the Deloitte report of June 2018 – “Apparent Annual per capita consumption of tea in India stands at 0.78 kg. per person in comparison to other countries in the world, Turkey (3.2 Kg), Morocco (1.86 Kg), UK (1.58 Kg) and even neighbouring countries like Pakistan (0.81 Kg) and China (1.31 Kg)”].

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