25 Jan 2013

Tea nations join forces

4:41 pm on 25 January 2013

The world's biggest producers of tea are to join forces, raising the prospect of a cartel which would control prices.

Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Indonesia, Malawi and Rwanda have announced the formation of the International Tea Producer's Forum.

These countries control more than half of global production. Kenya is the world's biggest tea exporter.

UK Tea Council chief executive Bill Gorman said collaboration is very valuable in the tea industry and these countries have been working together for decades, producing superior bushes that are pest and drought resistant.

Mr Gorman said one of the challenges facing any such group in terms of exporting tea is that there are differing trade regulations around the world.

He said 56 countries produce tea on a commercial basis and there are six countries trying to arrange this forum.

Mr Gorman said the market is run by the planters, traders, brokers and the tea companies.

Over the past 100 years tea supply had kept just ahead of demand. Currently prices for tea are good and that's not likely to change in the next couple of decades.

The Irish are reported to drink more tea per person than anywhere else on the planet.