Wednesday, May 23, 2012: 04:27:34 PM

Food Processing News

Debate on 'national drink' gathers steam

Annual tea consumption is 815 million kgs, while coffee consumption is 108 million kgs, says North East Tea Association

The debate on whether tea or coffee should be declared as the ‘national drink’ has heated up as the Assam tea industry has asserted that the demand for declaring tea as the 'national drink' is justified and the beverage cannot be compared with coffee in any way. This assertion has come shortly after Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia's recent statement in the Rajya Sabha, where he suggested that both beverages are equally significant in the country.

In his statement, Mr Scindia had said that a proposal to declare tea as the national drink of India was earlier examined in the year 2006 in consultation with the Central Ministries/Departments concerned and the States or Union Territories. He added that the matter was not pursued further as objections were raised by some of the state governments. Also, coffee is a competing beverage and both tea and coffee have respective market shares and announcing one particular beverage as a 'national drink' will likely be at the cost of the other.
In a riposte, North East Tea Association chairman Bidyanand Barkakoty, representing the Assam tea industry, said in a press statement that coffee or other beverages will always have their own respective market shares. Therefore, announcing tea as a national drink can in no way be at the cost of coffee.
Stats favour tea
Sharing some statistics, Mr Barkakoty said that annual tea production in the country is 988 million kgs, which is more than three times higher than the annual coffee production of 302 million kgs; the annual tea consumption is 815 million kgs, while coffee consumption is just 108 million kgs. The per capita consumption of coffee in India is 75 gms, whil per capita consumption of tea is almost 10 times higher at 730 gms, he said.
According to statistics, 83% of Indian households consume tea while its penetration of tea is about 96-99% in both urban and rural areas of the country.
Prasenjit Das


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