Sri Lanka tea promoted in China, world’s top producer

May 25, 2013 (LBO) – Ceylon Tea is being promoted in China giving a chance for citizens in that country to enjoy the beverage, though freely consuming foreign tea is a liberty that citizens of the island no longer posses.

Sri Lanka’s consulate in Shanghai had also had a launched a promotional campaign on tea.

“Black Tea, or Hong Cha as called in Chinese, is a popular beverage in Shanghai,” Sri Lanka’s Consul General Office in Shanghai said in a statement.

“The launch consisted of tea tasting opportunities at several shopping malls and public venues across Shanghai.”

Sri Lanka Tea Board chief Janaki Kuruppu and Ambassador Ranjith Uyangoda had addressed representatives of the Chinese tea trade, officials, media and the public who had attended the launch event.

Sri Lanka had also participated in the Second International Tea Fair held in Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, with the participation of 750 Chinese and International tea firms the Sri Lankan consulate there said.

Sumudu Walakuluge, Sri Lankan consul and delivered a presentation at the fair.

Sichuan Province is one of China‚Äôs largest tea producing regions and world famous for its ‘Tea House Culture’, the consulate said.

The consulate said Sri Lanka’s Zesta tea is planning to supply 216 Carrefour supermarkets in mainland China with Ceylon Tea. Carrefour is a French retail chain.

China has given freedom for foreign retail Chains to serve their people, a freedom India is only now giving foreign investors though the move has come under pressure from nationalist businesses.

The Sichuan Tea Association has agreed to send a group of investors and members of reputed Chinese tea companies to Sri Lanka at the end of this year, the consulate said.

Several Sri Lankan tea companies including HVA Foods are selling in China. In January Sri Lanka’ Aitken Spence group formed a joint venture with China’s Yunnan Dianhong Group to produce ‘Chinese Specialty Tea’ for export.

Tea drinking originated in China and the country is still the largest producer of tea making over 1,600 million kilograms, compared to about 300 million for Sri Lanka.

An existing tea drinking culture makes it attractive for foreign suppliers to enter and tempt people with different flavours and brand.

In Sri Lanka, where tea was brought by the British, landowners, farmers and some nationalist big business had blocked freedom for citizens to drink foreign teas by using the coercive power of the state against citizens.

Attempts to get some freedoms, at least to make Sri Lanka a centre of a global tea supply chain by forward looking sections of the tea industry has so far failed.

Several communist nations in Asia have had made great strides in trade freedoms unlike countries with the popular vote, where nationalists and big business have greater say in restricting peoples fundamental liberties.

Analysts say they have been able to embrace free trade, partly because one-party administrations have time to rationally assess failed policies and reverse them.

But they say it is also because communism is internationalist and therefore rejects nationalism at a fundamental level and also because free trade, especially in food, lowers living expenses of the workers and helps bring down poverty faster.

Vietnam, which makes half the worlds Robusta coffee (last year Vietnam exported 3.6 billion US dollars of coffee in addition to 200 million US dollars of tea) allows the import of both foreign tea and coffee.

It advanced trading and supply chains it is normal to import and export the same product or commodity.

Vietnamese firms are building strong domestic brands. Trung Nguyen a privately-owned company started in 1996, by a medical student turned businessman now exports to 60 countries and its group revenues were estimated at 370 million US dollars by Forbes magazine.

US based Starbucks is just entering Vietnam but none of the country’s existing brands, including Highlands Coffee and Trung Nguyen have asked for police power of the state and a rigged customs regime to protect themselves from its own citizens.

Neither have the coffee farmers, despite the Starbucks primarily being a user of Arabica coffee.

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