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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

India’s Tata Tea Seeks Specialty Purchases Overseas

India - According to a report published in the Khaleej Times, India’s Tata Tea Ltd. is scouting for more acquisitions in Europe and the U.S. to strengthen its position as the world’s number-two branded tea firm, stated company officials.

The Kolkata-based company has been exiting its tea plantations in India to focus on its high-margin packaged tea business, and is looking to buy specialty tea firms abroad. “The last two acquisitions we made were quite small, but we would potentially look at a much bigger one,” said John Nicholas, managing director of developed markets for the Tata Tetley Group. “We’ve been under-represented in specialty teas and have several firms on our shortlist, but a lot of these firms tend to be family-owned, so the process takes longer,” he said.

Last month Tata Tea said it would buy herbal and fruit tea maker, Jemca in the Czech Republic, for an undisclosed sum. “Eastern Europe is a hugely exciting market to be in because the economies are growing quickly,” said Vijay Singh, managing director of developing markets for Tata Tetley. “The bulk of the population is in developing markets and even though these are mostly markets for packet tea and teabags, there’s long-term potential and opportunity for other segments as there is a large population of young people,” Singh said.

U.S. Seeks To Strengthen The International Coffee Organization

U.S. - In a formal submission to the International Coffee Organization (ICO), the Bush administration hopes to revive the organizations effectiveness as the chief body for the worldwide coffee industry in the context of free markets and a changing global economy.

The government believes that current articles of the ICO, set to expire in 2007, need to reflect changes in the global market. Among emerging issues addressed are the implications of international economic integration, the growing importance of developing countries on consumers, the inevitable volatility in coffee prices, market-based mechanisms for risk management in developing countries, and development of mechanisms to provide access to capital and markets for small producers. The submission also stated that the U.S. government wants a revised, holistic posture to sustainable coffee production.

Tea Pickers Ignore Union’s Strike Call

Kenya - According to a report published in The East African Standard, tea pickers on farms owned by multinational companies, continued to work as the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) urged them to stop working.

Thousands of workers in Bomet, Bureti and Kericho districts ignored the strike called by the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU), a member of COTU. At a Press conference, KPAWU’s acting secretary-general, George Muchai, said work should stop until the matter is discussed and resolved. “We will be meeting with the labor minister (Newton Kulundu) to look for ways of ending the dispute,” he said.

Muchai said COTU supported KPAWU.

Recently, tea pickers threatened to stop working after the Ministry of Labor lifted a ban on the use of tea picking machines. More than 80,000 workers threatened to strike over a decision by Labor Permanent-Secretary. In a letter to KPAWU, general secretary Nancy Kirui said the government had “with immediate effect” lifted the ban on the use of the machines.

The letter was copied to COTU’s secretary general, Francis Atwoli, the executive director of the Federation of Kenya Employers, the Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner, and the District Commissioner of Kericho District, and the Commissioner of Labor. COTU accused Kirui of lifting the ban without consultations. The organization’s chairman, Rajabu Mwondi, said the decision was unilateral and disregarded International Labor Organization’s laws.

Honduras Coffees Sold During Cup of Excellence Auction

Honduras - The 24th auction results for the Cup of Excellence was recently held in Honduras. The Cup of Excellence winners auctioned their coffees during a four hour worldwide internet auction held on the Cup of Excellence website. Bidders logged on from Taiwan to Vancouver hoping to purchase one of the coffees chosen during the last international cupping competition held in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

The top 12 coffees averaged $5.27/lb; twice the amount of what farmers would receive on the New York “C” market. Executive director Susie Spindler stated, “Most of the top few coffees were very close in score during the international competition process, as little as a .5 difference in points. It is nice when all of these high quality coffees receive a premium at the auction, not just the top coffee.”

Of particular interest to some of the bidders was Jose Geovany Martinez, who took third place in the competition. He is carrying on the family tradition of producing exquisite coffee. His father, Gregorio Martinez took first place in the 2004 competition, and since then has handed the farm down to his son, Jose. Japanese roasters Maruyama Coffee and the Mikatajuku group purchased Gregorio’s coffee in 2004 at a significant premium and picked it up again at this auction.

Coffee Might Curb Alcoholic Cirrhosis

U.S. - A study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, stated that among more than 125,000 people studied for up to 22 years, coffee drinkers were less likely to be diagnosed with alcoholic cirrhosis. “These data support the hypothesis that there is an ingredient in coffee that protects against cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis,” the researchers state. The researchers aren’t recommending anyone rely on coffee to prevent alcoholic cirrhosis. Not drinking heavily is a better strategy for liver health, researcher Arthur Klatzky, M.D. noted.

Most participants noted drinking light or moderate amounts of alcohol (up to two daily drinks). Only 8% of participants admitted drinking three or more alcoholic drinks per day. Typical coffee consumption was one to three daily cups, noted by 42% of the group.

Over the years, 330 participants were diagnosed with cirrhosis; 199 of those cases were alcoholic cirrhosis. The remaining cases of cirrhosis were non-alcohol related. For every daily cup of coffee that participants reported drinking, they were 22% less likely to have been diagnosed with alcoholic cirrhosis during the study, Klatzky’s team reports.

The odds of developing nonalcoholic cirrhosis weren’t linked to coffee consumption. Coffee drinkers were also less likely to have high blood levels of liver enzymes. That pattern was strongest in people with the highest reported alcohol consumption.

The study doesn’t prove that drinking coffee cuts the chance of developing alcoholic cirrhoses, the researchers caution. They also point out that if coffee protects the liver, the effects of adding cream, milk, sugar, or other substances to coffee aren’t yet known.

6th Annual Specialty Tea Report

U.S. - The Seattle-based Sage Group International, has released the 6th edition of the Specialty Tea Is “Hot” Report. “America’s 76 million baby boomers view tea as universally friendly for the entire family. This health-conscious demographic is starting to embrace specialty tea culture through exotic brewed beverages, tea-based skincare products, and neighborhood cafes. The billions of consumer dollars available for specialty tea purchases between now and 2010 remains significant,” noted Sage Group’s founder Brian Keating.

This specialized report has become a popular business guidebook for the emerging global specialty tea industry. According to George Jage, founder of the World Tea Expo, “The Specialty Tea Is ‘Hot’ Report” has become the must-have industry report for anyone involved with the specialty tea industry.” According to Jage, information derived from the report and presented at World Tea Expo each year highlights the single most popular seminar with his show attendees. The report contains tea industry statistics, technical science, and key business development resources along with the first tea tasting form for standardizing tea assessments in commercial environments such as tea shops or wholesale operations.

The new report also includes a detailed analysis of the emerging specialty tea industry, including strategic value propositions, market catalysts, and other factors energizing in the industry. Report coverage also includes the first in-depth breakout of the North American specialty tea supply chain; quantifying brokers, importers, wholesalers, brands and retailers.

Sage Group began publishing tea industry reports in 1995 during the first waves of activity in the specialty tea industry. A detailed report including table of contents and ordering information is available at www.teareport.com.

Tea & Coffee - August/September, 2006


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