Turkish tea exports are surging as East African prices dip. Exports increased 52% by volume and 30% in value through September, a surprising success in the highly competitive black tea segment.
The Eastern Black Sea Exporters Association (DKIB) cited a combination of circumstances leading to sales of $10.8 million from exports to 103 countries. Exports totaled 3,088 metric tons during the first nine months of the year compared to 2,035 metric tons during the same period in 2018.
While most sales were to neighboring nations, United States wholesalers bought $353,184 of tea from state-owned Çaykur so far this year, comparable to the $364,895 purchased by North Cyprus.
Belgium ($4.5 million) and Germany ($1.5 million) are the most important trade partners in Europe,
Çaykur is aggressively marketing a diversity of teas, Şaban Turgut, deputy chairman of DKİB and chairman of the Tea Sector Committee told the Daily Sabah.
“Our tea exports will reach higher figures with the participation of our private sector brands in the world’s leading food fairs,” Turgut said, pointing to the importance of developing products suitable for overseas markets. A search of Amazon shows you can purchase several Çaykur varieties including Altinbas Cayi (Black Tea) and Çaykur Rize (a tea growing region). Prices range from $17-$21 for 500 grams of loose leaf in pouches and 125 gram tins for $25.
Turkey, a country of 78 million, is one of the world’s most successful tea markets combining imports and locally grown tea to quench the thirst of millions daily.
Tea is grown on approximately 200,000 acres (830,000 decares) along the eastern Black Sea. Turkey is the fifth largest tea producer in the world consuming 260,000 metric tons per year.
Most teas are traditional loose leaf, made in large quantities in large government-owned factories. Tea sells for 17-cents per cup at tea shops and restaurants. Spending the equivalent of $1 is considering splurging, although tea in the finest restaurants is priced at $4.25 per cup. Blends are finding favor as well as specialty and premium grades. Residents purchase an average 3.5 kilograms annually, the highest per capita total in the world. Turkish tea yields up to 300 glasses per kilogram, equivalent to 1,050 cups per year, about three per day.
At the grocery store a kilogram of tea sells for between $3.50 and $7.
Turgut, who mentioned the competitiveness of the global market, said local companies interested in exporting tea, “should cooperate with universities, benefit from grant funds of the Ministry of Industry and Technology and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) and establish research and development units.”