World Production And Tea Trade

Total world tea production has increased over the last few decades largely in proportion to population growth, but not uniformly. Increases have been greatest where investment and technology have been encouraged, such as in Kenya and north India, and declining where political and economic stability are minimal, such as in Sri Lanka and Georgia. Table 6 is a compilation of tea-production data for the major producing countries in 1997.

Tea consumption throughout the world is far from uniform. In Europe it ranges from ca 3 kg per capita annually in the United Kingdom and Ireland to less than 0.1 kg in Italy. Similar variations occur in the other continents. U.S. consumption is 0.36 kg; in Canada it is 0.68 kg. Tea consumption has been slowly declining in the traditional Anglo-Saxon markets where the popularity of coffee and soft drinks has been increasing. It has increased markedly in India as the economic situation has improved.

Importation of tea into the United States has remained fairly stable on a per capita basis over the period from 1938 to 1998. Product origin has changed considerably. China, Indonesia, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and India are now the major suppliers to the U.S. tea market (1). Tea is imported into the United States without duty. Standards established by the International Standards Organization (ISO) and Codex are intended to function as guidelines for teas in international trade. These include extractable solids (32% minimum), ash (4-8%), and crude fiber (16.5% maximum). The real price of tea has tended to decline with only infrequent increases occasioned by temporary shortages. This has caused problems for producing countries,

Table 6. World Tea Production in 1997 (10001 dry leaf)



Sri Lanka





Bangladesh Other Asia Total Asia






Other Africa

Total Africa

Argentina Other S. America Total S. America

Other Total world

811 613 277 131 110 91 60 53 73 2,219

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