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Market Information: Orthodox Tea
According to industry sources, the most interesting European markets for orthodox tea are Germany and France. Germany is an established market, but still shows growth in the mid-range market. Consumer prices for orthodox tea in Germany generally range between US$5 and US$15 per 100 gram
France is a promising growth market, particularly in the high-end segment. The French market is growing fast with consumer prices ranging from US$4 to US$20 per 100 gram, indicating that consumers are prepared to pay a high price for orthodox tea. Other interesting markets are Switzerland, Austria and the Scandinavian market. However, these markets are considerably smaller compared to Germany and France. Switzerland and Austria have characteristics which are similar to the German market, whereas Scandinavian consumers are mostly interested in high-end orthodox teas.
Traditionally, the Southern European countries (e.g. Greece, Italy or Spain) do not have a tea culture. The North-west European markets (e.g. Ireland, UK, Belgium and Netherlands) mostly consume bagged CTC tea and have limited interest for orthodox teas. In these countries, industry sources estimate that orthodox tea account for approximately 1-3% of total tea consumption. The East-European markets are more oriented towards convenience and affordability. Therefore consumers prefer bagged CTC tea. However, interest for high-quality orthodox tea (both green and black tea) is increasing in line with the increasing purchasing power in this region.
Purple tea
Purple tea (Camellia sinensis) is a new varietal that is propagated by grafting and cutting as opposed to seeding. Purple tea is rich in anthocyanin (a flavonoid), which pigments the leaves a purplish colour. Purple tea was primarily developed for tea health products as it is rich in antioxidants. Malvidin, Pelargonidin and Delphinidin are prominent in purple tea. The purple tea species has been in development for 25 years in Kenya and is more resistant to frost, disease, drought, and pests. It is processed by a method similar to green tea; however, when experimenting with different temperatures and times it can take on qualities similar to a green, oolong or black tea and can range from very mellow vegetal notes to astringent red wine-like qualities.
In Europe, it is currently not marketed as purple tea but as a variety of green tea. The health properties do not add so much to the price of the product that European buyers are prepared to pay for purple, but mostly add to the marketing of the product. France, Switzerland and Germany are the most interesting markets for purple tea in Europe. In the Asian market purple tea is also known as a green tea variety. The following Asian markets could be interested in Kenyan purple tea: Taiwan, China, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. In the US, the tea is more commonly marketed as purple teas in specialty shops. The average consumer price in the US webshops is between US$ 500-600 per kg.
Tea Packed at Origin
Within Europe, the North-Western region (e.g. Germany, UK, Belgium and Netherlands) is the most interesting market reflected in a high demand for bagged tea. The Southern European countries (e.g. Greece, Italy or Spain) do not have a tea culture which is reflected by the low figures of tea consumption in this region. In Eastern Europe, demand for bagged tea has increased in the past decade, making it also more interesting to source packed at origin. However, the price factor is of high priority in this region.
The European market for bagged tea is dominated by large companies with well-known brands and competitive product pricing, making it very difficult for new competitors to enter the European market. In these markets, tea producers/exporters are recommended to work with retailers which could be interested in producing their private label in Kenya if you could provide them a quality product at a competitive price. In recent years, some European supermarket chains have their private label tea packed directly in producing countries, but also ethical retailers are experimenting with packing in countries of origin. Whereas the first mainly source packed tea because of cost reductions, the latter also see the local value addition as an important selling point for their ethical story.
Kenyan exporters should be aware that different shapes of tea bags are used in different countries (Figure 1). For example, in the UK single-chamber tea bags are more common, whereas the standard in continental Europe is double-chamber teabags with a string and envelope. There are also different sizes of teabags for brewing a cup or a pot of tea. A rising trend in most regions in Europe and also in the USA is pyramid tea bags, customers want to see the loose tea in these teabags. Producers should align what tea bags they produce with what is demanded on the market in question.
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