Tea industry analysis

Tea with a view image by Sheila Button from Fotolia.com

Recent trends in the tea industry are changing the way business is done in the multibillion dollar market.

According to the Fairtrade Foundation, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world, but environmental forces, political landscapes and the changing values and perceptions of the public are combining to change the industry. Other factors are also influencing trends in the industry.

Climate Change

Climate change has been wreaking havoc in the tropical and subtropical areas where tea is grown. Harvests have become less predictable than in the past. Companies are working to improve technology to offset losses. The Fairtrade Foundation's latest briefing report states that companies are building wind generators, for example, which provide processing power, but also allow tea producers to sell the extra power when they need to offset crop losses.

Environmental Considerations

Companies are beginning to work to find solutions for environmental stress as a result of climate change and global warming. Soil management techniques, reforestation of riverbanks and less harmful fertilisation are all topics being put into effect to secure the future of the tea industry, according to the Fairtrade Foundation.

Growing Public Awareness of Fair Trade

Engineers Without Borders Concordia report a poll initiated by the international development charity, Traidcraft, showed that 66 per cent of tea drinkers in the UK either already drink Fairtrade teas or wish their major brand would switch to Fairtrade. These findings support the Fairtrade Foundation's statement that there is a growing public awareness about the largest tea companies lagging behind more progressive companies in the business world who look out for the health, safety and environmental conditions of people who work in the production end of industry.

Positive Health Research

Science researchers Bradley W. Bolling, Chung-Yen Oliver Chen and Jeffrey B. Blumberg of Tuft's University conducted a study to assess the health benefits of tea in combating the chronic diseases of the elderly. They write, "there is a role for tea in health promotion as a beverage absent in calories and rich in phyochemicals." Their review of science literature also found a correlation between tea and cardiovascular health. Promotion of tea as a healthy choice has led to increased market brands, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A., Inc.

Emerging Brands

According to the Tea Association of the United States,Inc., supermarkets are expanding tea space and there are more speciality brands available to the buying public. These brands are not associated with the big tea houses, however, but to a growing number of regional companies. The convenience of ready to drink packaging is driving the tea industry in the United States.