India needs local tea brands with global appeal

India needs local tea brands with global appeal
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Highlights

The taste buds and preferences of tea consumers have undergone significant changes and are still changing, thanks to larger options and availability.

The taste buds and preferences of tea consumers have undergone significant changes and are still changing, thanks to larger options and availability. Consumer demand for tea, therefore, has become much more complex than in the past. With the variety of teas available to customers having increased due to the opening of global barriers and advent of e-commerce, discerning customers have started seeking innovation and diversity in products being offered by tea brands.

This has led to the growth of demand for premium teas, which include immunity booster teas, speciality teas, flavoured teas and so on. Tea, across the world and in India, is fast emerging as a wellness beverage than just a morning or evening cuppa. Little wonder therefore, that the millennials and the younger generation in the age group of 20 year to 45 year are just lapping it up.

With the advent of the concepts like 'mindful eating', 'mindful drinking' over the last few years, more particularly during and after the pandemic, this particular trend has caught up even faster. The shift in consumers' preferences towards immunity boosting and wellness branded teas is palpable. These trends are being increasingly followed by people to improve their health and wellbeing. Mindfulness teaches us how to rely on our body's inherent ability to tell us when we are hungry or full, thirsty or not.

With immunity-boosting teas enriched with ayurvedic ingredients like ashwagandha, tulsi, and turmeric, moringa etc readily available online and in brick-and-mortar outlets, customers are spoilt for choices. So, it would not be a misnomer to say that augmented nutrition will be the mantra in 2022 and beyond.

Quite in line with the global trends, Indian tea brands have started believing in the notion of wellness before everything. Indian tea experts have also conceptualized and packaged an array of immunity boosting teas with the goodness of turmeric, ashwagandha, tulsi, cloves and other Indian herbs for patrons to choose from and boost wellness. This range of teas has been and are being well received by the consumers. Interestingly, acceptance of one such brand in the market has propelled other brands to come up with new offerings, giving a fillip to the fact that the category itself is in good demand.

However, there are more problems than one on the supply chain side, including that of low wages, high cost of production and consistency in quality. Besides, there is this problem of unpredictable weather conditions, thanks to global warming. Tea prices have not yet kept pace with increasing costs. Coupled with these, low wages have confined the working population of the tea gardens within the vicious circle of poverty, adversely affecting the human development index factors such as high IMR, anaemia and the occurrence of preventable diseases.

Having said all these, there is no doubt whatsoever that India needs several homegrown Indian tea brands with global appeal and financial wherewithal to address the issues plaguing the entire tea supply chain and help resurrect the tea industry in India to become big players in the global market. In order to reach there, supply side bottlenecks need to be done away with.

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