World Tea News asked tea industry influencers: How is the organic food trend changing tea?
Here are their insights.
I love that the organic food trend generally raises consumers’ awareness of the pesticides and other concerns, including ambient pollution and lead in tea cultivation. There are regions from which we won’t market teas which aren’t certified organic. However, the highest quality teas in the world are not organic certified, and nor will they ever be. They’re at the pinnacle of fine artisanal cultivation. For these growers, catering to a certification is both irrelevant and devaluing. Many consumers don’t realize this, and it’s unfortunate that they’ll most likely miss tasting some real treasures of tea.
—Maria Uspenski Founder and CEO of The Tea Spot, author of Cancer Hates TeaThe growing consumer demand for organically certified food is both an opportunity and a risk for tea. The opportunity is to increase revenues across the value chain while protecting the planet. The risk is in putting unrealistic demands upon producers regarding cultivation practices and purity guarantees thereby increasing costs, lowering yields, and wiping out any benefit of a premium price. From another perspective I believe most consumers view tea as an “organic” product so differentiating it from a conventional product with formal certification unfairly begs questions about anything that is not organic – a little like the concept that tea which isn’t Fair Trade certified is somehow unfair. As with the use of the word “Natural” I do wonder whether marketers need to obsess over these terms or whether perhaps they can find other better and safer ways to stimulate demand for tea.
—Richard Enticott Owner of Meridian Trading CompanyConsumers’ slow but growing commitment to organics in the western hemisphere drives more demand for certified organic tea. Though it has been slow to respond, we do see more farms pursuing organic certification in the producing countries.
—Kelly Amoroso Tea Buyer at Allegro CoffeeWe do need to expand the traceability of our products. Not being easily able to authenticate the products, understand the growing conditions and locations is a long term detriment to growth. Building this awareness can lead to more product and better products being produce under organic conditions.
—Tim Smith Owner of The Tea Smith