In a remarkable turn of events, the tea industry is experiencing a surge in investments as the demand for tea skyrockets. This surge in demand is a direct result of the growing purchasing power of people over the past decade.
One shining example of this trend is Halda Valley, a prominent upmarket tea brand. Over the course of the last ten years, their leased plantation area has doubled. Shamim Khan, the Managing Director of Halda Valley Food and Beverage, attributes this growth to the improving socioeconomic conditions of people. The Halda Valley Tea Estate, situated in Chattogram’s Fatikchhari upazila, was acquired by Khan’s father back in 2002.
Data from the International Tea Committee, based in London, underscores this upward trajectory. Between 2014 and 2016, individuals in Bangladesh were consuming an average of 480 grams of tea leaves. Fast-forward to 2019-2021, and that number surged to an impressive 520 grams.
Shamim Khan has revealed that the company is gearing up to ramp up production in response to the escalating demand. Shah Moinuddin Hasan, the General Manager of Ispahani Tea, affirms that not only is per capita tea consumption on the rise, but new tea enthusiasts are joining the ranks every year.
According to the Bangladesh Tea Board (BTB), the demand for tea is steadily increasing at a notable average annual rate of 5 percent. This demand is being driven primarily by the hospitality sector, including hotels, restaurants, and tea stalls, which account for 50-55 percent of the total tea consumption. The remaining portion is distributed among homes and offices.
Kamran Tanvirur Rahman, the Chairman of the Bangladesh Tea Association representing tea garden owners, predicts a further surge in tea consumption. He underscores that the expanding population and the economic boost reflected in GDP growth will fuel this momentum.
As a result, tea garden owners are seizing this opportunity and investing significantly in their businesses. The Bangladesh Tea Association reports that the country is currently home to 168 tea estates.
BTB officials are stressing the importance of this investment in keeping up with the domestic consumption surge. They emphasize that without the increase in domestic production, the country would be compelled to resort to importing tea.
Data from the Bangladesh Tea Board paints a promising picture. The average yield of tea per acre has surged from 534 kilograms in 2013 to an impressive 664 kg in 2022. This positive shift is accompanied by an expansion in acreage, growing from 146,000 acres to 175,000 acres over this period.
Shah Moinuddin Hasan explains that the consistent planting of new seedlings each year has been instrumental in bringing new areas under tea cultivation. This expansion has played a pivotal role in the significant increase in tea production. In 2022 alone, Bangladesh produced a remarkable 9.4 crore kg of tea, marking a substantial increase from the 6.6 crore kg produced in 2013.
Ismail Hossain, the Director of the Bangladesh Tea Research Institute, underscores the potential for further growth in average tea production per acre. He emphasizes the importance of collaboration between tea garden owners and BTB in achieving this goal.
The turning point for the tea industry of Bangladesh occurred at the turn of the century when BTB officials returned from Sri Lanka, a major player in the global tea industry. They brought back invaluable insights and techniques that revolutionized tea cultivation in Bangladesh. The expansion of tea cultivation to areas like Panchagarh, Lalmonirhat, Bandarban, Khagrachhari, Rangamati, and Cox’s Bazar around 2002 was a pivotal moment. Prior to that, tea production was confined to Sylhet and Chattogram.
Currently, Moulvibazar boasts an impressive 90 tea gardens, contributing significantly to 55 percent of the nation’s tea production. Habiganj follows closely, accounting for 22 percent of the total tea output.
In the broader global context, Bangladesh proudly stands as the eighth largest tea producer, representing about 2 percent of the world’s total tea production. With the ongoing trajectory and substantial investments being poured into the industry, the future of tea in Bangladesh is undoubtedly bright.