Sri Lanka has set an ambitious export target of $5 billion by 2020 which would make it the top global exporter by value. The country currently exports $1.5 billion worth of tea.
Minister of plantation industries Mahinda Samarasinghe told the Sri Lanka Tea Exporters Association in October that Sri Lanka provides more value than competing exporters. He said that 46% of Sri Lanka’s total production is value added tea (bagged, packaged, blended, flavored, decaffeinated, made into solubles, tea extract, or otherwise enhanced).
By comparison only 11% of the tea India produces is value added and only 4% of Kenya’s teas are processed beyond bulk offerings. In 2004 only 37% of Sri Lanka’s tea production was value-added.
Samarasinghe said that Sri Lanka faces stiff competition globally and must aggressively market its tea. To finance this effort exporters have paid a promotional levy of SLRs 3.50 per kilo since November 2010. The fund has now reached SLRs 3.5 billion ($26.7 million). To make the best use of this money, exporters are asked to match allotments up to $1 million. Half of the fund will be available to exporters.
The goal is to enter new markets and regain lost market share in traditional markets, he said. Targets include China, the US, and Russia as well as other Asian countries. Exporters will begin their campaign after the first of the year.