In recent years, the development of tea industry in China was intensely focused and vigorously promoted by the government at all levels. Great progress has been made in tea production, quality assurance, cultural popularization and tea consumption. Volume of tea Import and export trade has raised steadily and has set new records continuously. In 2018, China's tea industry has been working closely with other countries with a smooth pace and a broader mind in order to integrate the world tea industry. The trade situation in details is as follows:
1. Export increased steadily, with both record-breaking volume and price.
According to customs statistics, in 2018, 365,000 tons of Chinese tea has exported to 128 countries and regions, up to 2.7% YoY (Year-on-year percentage), and the value of tea exports increased by 10.5% YoY to 1.78 billion US dollars (12 billion RMB).
From the perspective of classification of tea, the export of Chinese green tea remains robust, with the volume of 330,000 tons, an increase of 3% YoY, and the total value of 1.22 billion US dollars, an increase of 7.9% YoY. , the export of Chinese green tea accounted for 83% of China's total tea export volume and 69% of total export value. Oolong tea and scented tea exports grew impressively, exporting 19,000 tons and 6917 tons respectively, up to 17.2% and 12.2% YoY. Pu'er tea exports stopped falling and rebounded, with a total volume of 2970 tons, up 9.3% YoY. Black tea is the second largest classification of tea, with an export volume of 33,000 tons, decreased 7.2% YoY.
From the perspective of destination of exports, Africa and Asia are still the most important markets for Chinese tea. Among them, the volume of exports to Africa reached 200,000 tons , increased by 3.3% YoY, accounting 55% of total exports; exports to Asia increased by 3.1% YoY, accounting for 26.9% of total exports. The proposed initiative “the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road” has brought opportunities to tea trade with countries participating in the “Belt and Road” initiative, the volume of tea trade has increased year by year, with an export volume of 90,000 tons in 2018, an increase of 2.1% YoY. Exports volume to ASEAN countries reached 18,000 tons, increased 10.8% YoY, 29,000 tons to the EU, a slight decrease of 1.4% YoY.
In terms of export prices, due to the continuous rise of domestic production costs, the average export prices of green tea, black tea, oolong tea and scented tea all increased to varying degrees, which helped raise the growth of total value of tea exports.
There are 28 export provinces (cities) in China that exports tea. The top five among them are Zhejiang, Anhui, Hunan, Fujian and Jiangxi, their export volume account for 82.7% of the total export volume of China.
There are two main reasons for the steady growth of tea export: firstly, the continuous improvement of tea quality assurance has laid a solid foundation for the expansion of tea export. The competent authorities of Chinese government have been continuously strengthened the quality and safety management of tea, accelerated the implementation of green production mode and established high-standard ecological tea plantations in all tea-producing regions. quality and safety are given special attention during the whole process of tea production, processing, packaging and sales of tea. The levels of hygiene and tea quality have been continuously improved, which led to the increasing confidence and demand of importers and consumers. Secondly, tea consumption in the international market is further diversified. Although black tea still dominates the world tea consumption, the consumption of green tea has been increasing in recent years, and the volume of trade has continued to grow. Due to the continuous trend of healthy diet among consumers that the green tea may be healthier than black tea.
2. Rapid growth of tea imports and broad market prospects
In 2018, China imported 355,000 tons of tea, an increase of 19.1% YoY, with imports of 180 million US dollars, an increase of 19.4% YoY. The compound growth rate of tea import volume was 7.2% from 2014 to 2018, and the compound growth rate of tea import value was 12.7%.
Black tea is the main imported tea, reaching 30,000 tons, up 16% YoY, accounting for 83.3% of the total imports, and the amount of imports is 120 million US dollars, up 10.4% year-on-year. From 2014 to 2018, the compound growth rate of black tea import was 14.6%, and the compound growth rate of import amount was 14.4%. The second is green tea and oolong tea, with imports of 3,142 tons and 2,308 tons respectively, accounting for 8.7% and 6.5% of the total import volume.
Sri Lanka is the largest source of imports of black tea, which accounts for 36.7% of the total imported black tea, followed by India, Kenya and Indonesia. Imports of green tea and oolong tea are mainly from Taiwan Province of China.
The large increase in tea imports is mainly due to the upgrading of consumption in the Chinese market. Enterprises need to constantly innovate new products with new tastes to meet the diversified needs of consumers. Various kinds of tea beverages and tea bags made from black tea are welcomed among Chinese consumers, and the demand for foreign black tea keeps rising.
3. Prospects for the situation in 2019
The tea trade is developing vigorously, and there will be four main trends in the future: first, the knowledge of healthy diet and health benefits of tea will be deepened among consumers which will led to the raise of demand for tea, trade volume will certainly continue to grow; second, through science and technology and innovation, tea producers will continuously improve the quality of tea, constantly enrich the varieties and fully enrich the multiple connotations of tea. So that tea will be more favoured by consumers. Thirdly, the charm of pleasure, harmony and natural health contained in tea itself attracts and connects relatives and friends. People communicate sincerely and peacefully when they drink tea with spiritual enjoyment. The exchange and integration of different tea cultures from different countries has further promoted the development of tea trade. Fourth, the market is more inclusive and open, trade barriers will be gradually reduced, and trade cooperation will be smoother.
Tea industry is facing both development opportunities and challenges. Hence, first, it worth consideration that how to boost consumption continuously, by understanding the consuming psychology of young generation, so that they drink tea more often and enjoyably; second, how to reflect the underlying value of tea, so that consumers are more willing to understand and accept; third, how to apply more scientific and standardized use of pesticides and biological pesticides, in order to ensure the safety of tea production, as well as minimizing pollution and protecting the environment.