- Title: Kenya promotes speciality teas to boost earnings for farmers.
- Date: 14th November 2016
- Summary: MERU, KENYA (RECENT) (REUTERS) PURPLE TEA IN FARM VARIOUS OF WORKERS PICKING PURPLE TEA VARIOUS OF PURPLE TEA VARIOUS OF WORKERS PICKING TEA VARIOUS OF MANAGING DIRECTOR, NJERU INDUSTRIES, HENRY NJERU WORKING IN HIS OFFICE (SOUNDBITE) (English) MANAGING DIRECTOR, NJERU INDUSTRIES, HENRY NJERU SAYING: "It ended up being a good diversification. The tea itself had good health benefits. It has now caught up in the market; the demand is now almost outstripping the supply."
- Embargoed: 29th November 2016 14:16
- Keywords: Purple Tea Black Tea Speciality Tea Diversification Farmers
- Location: MERU, NAIROBI AND NANDI HILLS, KENYA
- City: MERU, NAIROBI AND NANDI HILLS, KENYA
- Country: Kenya
- Topics: Commodities Markets,Economic Events
- Reuters ID: LVA00158F1JKN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Kenya is relaxing some of its tea industry rules to encourage production of new varieties in an effort to boost earnings for farmers of the crop, which is now one of the country's top hard currency earners.
The East African nation is the world's leading exporter of black tea, but oversupply and variable weather conditions often lead to global price fluctuations, encouraging diversification into niche varieties such as purple and white tea.
Rules governing the production of black tea are being eased for speciality projects. Tea factories now need 20 hectares for speciality tea products to be licensed from 250 hectares in the past.
In Kenya's tea-growing region in the Eastern highlands, the family-run Njeru Industries planted 150 acres with purple tea in 2012, seeking to hedge against price fluctuations, leaving 450 acres to grow black tea.
Henry Njeru is the managing director at Njeru Industries.
"It ended up being a good diversification. The tea itself had good health benefits. It has now caught up in the market; the demand is now almost outstripping the supply," he said.
Kenyan tea production is expected to be 430 million kg this year, but just 50,000 kg will be speciality teas, some of which can fetch 10 times more per kg as consumers worldwide have started to gain a taste for different flavours.
Unlike black tea, purple tea is not fermented in processing, and contains anthocyanin and other substances which some experts say have health benefits, such as helping with weight loss.
It was developed by Kenyan tea researchers about five years ago.
Njeru produced 10,000 kg of purple tea last year and expects to harvest 15,000 kg this year, selling for $30 per kg, well above the $1-$3.50 per kg fetched by traditional tea, with buyers coming from Japan to the United States.
"The price difference even to me initially was a bit shocking because here we have been in a CTC (crush, tear, curl) market that ranges anywhere between 1 dollar to 3 dollars and at its highest maybe 3.40 dollars and you come to a market where by you are easily selling it at 30 dollars actually I also have done one at 45 dollars per kilogram and I have known those who have been reselling forward from me, have been selling as high as 70 dollars a kilogram so it is really a far cry from your normal tea of 3 dollars its more of a niche market it would have advantages to farmers," said Njeru.
The product is also finding local demand. Yash Shah, an assistant manager at Chandarana Supermarkets in Nairobi, says purple tea accounted for 3.5 percent of its total tea sales, after the chain started stocking it a year ago.
"I would recommend they plant more purple tea, there are so many customers who would like to try new things," he said.
China still dominates white tea production, but Kenya and other growers are starting cultivation. The industry regulator, the Tea Directorate, says it wants the share of speciality teas to rise to 10 percent of the total in the next five years.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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