Posted: 3 years ago

Tea Industry Worldwide – What about Georgia?

Tea is a staple product across the world, and it ranks as the second most popular drink.

Tea production started in China several thousand years ago, and it appeared in Europe only in the 17th century. Today, 37 countries have developed tea production, and annual tea exports to the international market makes up 3.5 million tons.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), China is reported as the world’s major tea manufacturing country, with 2.8 million tons, and this is 30%-35% of global tea production. According to experts’ appraisals, the volume of China’s tea market exceeds 10 billion USD. India ranks second, and has produced about 900,000 tons of tea varieties in 2018.

According to the official statistics, 70% of Indian tea is sold on the domestic market, and only 30% of Indian tea is exported to the international market. Kenya ranks third among the world’s major tea production countries, with an annual 399,000 tons. This African country is one of the major tea exporters, and it supplies about 370,000 tons of tea to foreign markets a year.

Sri Lanka grows 295,830 tons of tea on 188,175 hectares, and this country ranks fourth worldwide. Turkey ranks fifth, with 175,000 tons. Indonesia ranks sixth, with more than 157,000 tons. Vietnam ranks 7th,with 116,780 tons, Japan at 8th, with about 88,000 tons. This country exports only 2% of produced tea. Iran ranks 9th with 83,990 tons, and Argentina is 10th with 69,924 tons.

As for tea importers, Pakistan is the world’s major tea importer. Pakistan’s ratio in global tea imports constituted 9.9% in 2016-2018. Russia ranks second, with 9.6%. Great Britain ranks third, with about 7.4%. The USA ranks 4th with 7.3%, and the United Arab Emirates ranks fifth, with 6.3%. On the whole, these  countries import 40% of tea production worldwide.

As for Georgia, the history of tea in this country started 170 years ago, and this industry reached its peak in the Soviet Period. In the USSR, tea plantations covered 67,000 hectares, and the country used to pick 500-600 tons of tea leaves. The Republic’s ratio ofSoviet tea production accounted for 87%.

The regression of the Georgian tea industry started in the 1990s, and today, tea plantations cover about 3.5 thousand hectares. Georgia’s annual tea consumption makes up about 1,000 tons, noted Tengiz Svanidze, head of the Georgian Tea Growers Association.

Domestic production satisfies only 20% of the Georgian tea market, and the remaining 80% is imported from abroad. Despite this Georgia carries out tea exports, mainly to Mongolia, Svanidze noted. Georgian tea is also imported by Central Asian and Baltic countries. Marginal volumes are exported to Eastern Europe.

Georgia mainly manufactures three varieties of tea: black, green and green brick tea. Major tea manufacturers are: Gurieli, Ternali, Kobuleturi Tea, Shemoqmedi, Anaseuli and Tkibuli.

According to Geostat, the national statistics service of Georgia, in 2018, Georgia sold tea worth about 3.6 million USD on the international market. Georgian tea exports have increased by 50% compared to 2017. This year, tea exports constituted 2.4 million USD. As for imports, according to Geostat, in 2018 Georgia imported tea of 8.9 million USD.