VIETNAM’S tea exports dropped in both volume and value in the first four months of 2018, despite a price hike.
Low quality and lack of internationally known brands remain the main barriers for Vietnamese tea in gaining a strong foothold in foreign markets.
Vietnam exported 34,000 tonnes of tea worth US$54 million (Bt1.7 billion) between January-April, a decrease of 10.2 per cent and 3.6 per cent, respectively, from the same period in 2017. The price of exported tea in the first quarter averaged $1,546 per tonne, up by 7.5 per cent year on year. The main buyers of Vietnamese tea during the reviewed period included Russia, Pakistan, Taiwan (China), Indonesia, the United States, China and Malaysia.
Pakistan continued to be Vietnam’s largest tea importer in terms of turnover. The country purchased 4,060 tonnes, or 16 per cent, of Vietnam’s total tea exports for a price of $8.45 million, down by 28.9 per cent in volume and 19.2 per cent in value. The decline is the result of a stricter regulation in Pakistan, which now requires an aflatoxin certificate for tea imports.
A similar situation unfolded with tea shipments to China and Taiwan, which have also applied stricter regulations.
Pakistan was followed by Russia, which imported over 4,170 tonnes of tea for $6.49 million, down by 8.4 per cent in volume, but up by 6.5 per cent in value, thanks to a 16.2 per cent increase in tea prices, bringing the average value to $1,556 per tonne.
According to experts, lower demand might have played a part in the fall of tea exports, but the main problems were that domestic exporters paid little attention to improving the quality of the tea, along with an absence of Vietnamese tea brands known internationally.