Richest Global Markets for Selling Imported Tea

Many people enjoy a hot cup of tea after they feel stressed, hoping to invoke a state of calm awareness. In addition, iced tea is a favorite cold refreshment in hotter environments.

One advantage of tea over coffee is that drinkers are less likely to experience a caffeine crash. This is partly because high levels of antioxidants in tea moderate the absorption of caffeine. Antioxidants mitigate the severity of caffeine crashes.

Globally imported tea was worth US$6.7 billion in 2020. That dollar amount reflects a -2.1% slowdown from $6.8 billion for 2016. From 2019 to 2020, the value of tea imported worldwide fell by -5.5%.

The $6.7 billion in imported tea compares to $30.8 billion for imported coffee purchased in 2020.

The 5 strongest consumer markets for importing tea benefited from almost one third (31.1%) of world total purchases for tea bought on international markets in 2020. The strongest cashflows from buying imported tea came from: Pakistan (8.9% of the overall total), United States (7.1%), Russia (6.2%), United Kingdom (5.2%) and Saudi Arabia (3.7%).

Among these 5 key import markets for tea, the greatest buying increase was the 60.7% gain generated by importers in mainland China. The only other gain from 2019 to 2020 was the 2.9% increase for top 5 tea importer Saudi Arabia.

By comparing changes in consumer demand for imported tea by buyer country highlighted in this article, researchers can uncover the most compelling opportunities for selling tea and related products and services on international markets.

Tea is a Consumer Convenience Product

Tea satisfies the criteria of a consumer good (also called an end product) created for consumers to buy in its final form to satisfy their taste buds, often as a condiment. In contrast, products like turbojets are usually purchased by companies or government entities rather than individuals.

Economists classify tea as convenience products, a technical classification for goods that are easily accessed and purchased relatively often. Many shoppers buy tea on weekly trips to their local grocery shops or as a daily refreshment at local fast-food restaurants.

Dry tea leaves can last a very long time. According to EatByDate.com, packaged tea can last 6 to 12 months beyond its best before date when placed in the freezer or 6 to 12 months if stored in a pantry.

Imported Tea Bought by Country

The sortable table below showcases marketing intelligence for the top 100 buyers of tea, ranked in descending order starting with the greatest annual sales amount at the 4-digit Harmonized System (HS) code level. For tea, the HS code prefix is 0902 whether flavored or not.

Also shown is each import country’s percentage of the global total purchases for imported tea in 2020, as well as the change in those sales from 2019 to 2020.

RankImporterUS$%Total2019-20
1Pakistan$589,756,0008.9%+18.7%
2United States$473,832,0007.1%-3%
3Russia$412,245,0006.2%-3.2%
4United Kingdom$348,686,0005.2%-2.1%
5Saudi Arabia$243,557,0003.7%+2.9%
6Iran$236,308,0003.5%-39.9%
7Hong Kong$221,816,0003.3%+19%
8Morocco$202,304,0003%-12.8%
9Egypt$197,215,0003%-28.7%
10Germany$195,015,0002.9%-14.8%
11China$180,014,0002.7%-3.9%
12France$168,098,0002.5%+0.7%
13United Arab Emirates$164,903,0002.5%-21.7%
14Japan$156,638,0002.4%-12.9%
15Iraq$134,748,0002%-23%
16Netherlands$132,558,0002%+5.7%
17Poland$131,269,0002%+6.9%
18Canada$123,280,0001.9%-11.2%
19Australia$101,299,0001.5%-3.9%
20Kazakhstan$101,237,0001.5%-6.1%
21Ghana$93,242,0001.4%+3142%
22Malaysia$80,499,0001.2%-16.8%
23Togo$78,013,0001.2%+6922%
24Taiwan$77,823,0001.2%-6.1%
25Italy$75,477,0001.1%-3%
26Chile$68,488,0001%+54.8%
27India$67,447,0001%+22.4%
28Ukraine$60,485,0000.9%+5.5%
29Jordan$59,097,0000.9%+27.5%
30Azerbaijan$56,187,0000.8%+2.1%
31Syrian Arab Republic$50,540,0000.8%-10.8%
32Algeria$49,592,0000.7%-7.6%
33Ireland$48,116,0000.7%-7.2%
34Singapore$47,382,0000.7%-6.6%
35Spain$46,640,0000.7%+11.9%
36Yemen$45,215,0000.7%-14.8%
37Turkey$44,366,0000.7%+8.6%
38Uzbekistan$42,235,0000.6%-9.1%
39Libya$41,958,0000.6%-34.8%
40Afghanistan$40,202,0000.6%-67.3%
41South Africa$39,896,0000.6%-0.9%
42Switzerland$38,957,0000.6%+6.3%
43Belgium$35,440,0000.5%-14.3%
44Nigeria$34,181,0000.5%+89.3%
45Sweden$33,795,0000.5%-4.7%
46Belarus$33,123,0000.5%-18.6%
47Denmark$31,535,0000.5%-5.9%
48New Zealand$26,480,0000.4%+9.1%
49Czech Republic$26,455,0000.4%-5%
50Thailand$26,122,0000.4%+17.3%
51Indonesia$25,857,0000.4%-28.2%
52Qatar$24,338,0000.4%-7.8%
53Austria$21,432,0000.3%-22.9%
54South Korea$21,220,0000.3%+5.9%
55Mauritania$20,293,0000.3%-1.4%
56Mali$20,126,0000.3%-47.5%
57Kuwait$19,691,0000.3%-69.8%
58Lebanon$19,518,0000.3%-17.8%
59Ivory Coast$18,049,0000.3%+100.6%
60Cameroon$16,997,0000.3%+30.9%
61Vietnam$16,790,0000.3%-45.7%
62Norway$16,384,0000.2%+2.2%
63Guinea$16,064,0000.2%+17.4%
64Sri Lanka$15,525,0000.2%-17.1%
65Kenya$14,907,0000.2%+27.5%
66Finland$12,419,0000.2%-15.8%
67Kyrgyzstan$12,088,0000.2%+8%
68Oman$11,631,0000.2%+28.4%
69Tunisia$11,493,0000.2%-10%
70Lithuania$10,963,0000.2%-13.1%
71Latvia$10,543,0000.2%+9.1%
72Niger$10,001,0000.2%-19.7%
73Laos$9,978,0000.1%+749.9%
74Hungary$9,683,0000.1%-6.4%
75Israel$9,555,0000.1%+13.3%
76Macao$8,571,0000.1%-5.5%
77Philippines$8,135,0000.1%-29%
78Botswana$7,680,0000.1%-3.7%
79Tajikistan$7,424,0000.1%+4.7%
80Mexico$7,394,0000.1%-30.6%
81Moldova$7,057,0000.1%-9.4%
82Georgia$6,745,0000.1%-15.9%
83Greece$6,522,0000.1%-22.6%
84Somalia$6,051,0000.1%-4%
85Portugal$5,930,0000.1%-14.7%
86Estonia$5,914,0000.1%+10.4%
87Senegal$4,925,0000.1%-24.4%
88Romania$4,739,0000.1%-10%
89Mongolia$4,092,0000.1%+5.5%
90Namibia$3,949,0000.1%-23.6%
91Bahrain$3,624,0000.1%-74.8%
92Slovakia$3,409,0000.1%-6.1%
93Luxembourg$3,260,0000.05%-5.5%
94Mozambique$3,204,0000.05%-22.9%
95Bulgaria$3,032,0000.05%-42.6%
96Fiji$3,022,0000.05%-20.3%
97Chad$2,968,0000.04%+86.1%
98Brazil$2,808,0000.04%-5.7%
99Peru$2,784,0000.04%+27%
100Armenia$2,602,0000.04%+2.4%

Among the 100 strongest global markets, 36 countries increased their spending on imported tea. The 7 greatest percentage gains year over year were posted by Togo (up 6,922%), Ghana (up 3,142%), Laos (up 749.9%), Ivory Coast (up 100.6%), Nigeria (up 89.3%), Chad (up 86.1%) and Chile (up 54.8%).

Leading percentage declines for the remaining 64 tea-importing countries was Bahrain via a -74.8% annual drop.

Significant reductions in tea imports by value were also registered by Kuwait (down -69.8%), Afghanistan (down -67.3%), Mali (down -47.5%), Vietnam (down -45.7%), Bulgaria (down -42.6%) and Iran (down -39.9%).

Richest Global Markets for Imported Tea

Illustrated below is the market demand for tea imported during 2020 by 30 of world’s richest countries in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person, according to RichestCountryReports.com.

Countries are listed in descending order starting with the wealthiest economy in terms of GDP per capita.

  1. Luxembourg: US$3.3 million (Down -5.5%)
  2. Singapore: $47.4 million (Down -6.6%)
  3. Ireland: $48.1 million (Down -7.2%)
  4. Qatar: $24.3 million (Down -7.8%)
  5. Macao: $8.6 million (Down -5.5%)
  6. Switzerland: $39 million (Up 6.3%)
  7. Norway: $16.4 million (Up 2.2%)
  8. United States: $473.8 million (Down -3%)
  9. Brunei Darussalam: $1.8 million (Down -34.3%)
  10. Hong Kong: $221.8 million (Up 19%)
  11. Denmark: $31.5 million (Down -5.9%)
  12. Netherlands: $132.6 million (Up 5.7%)
  13. United Arab Emirates: $164.9 million (Down -21.7%)
  14. Taiwan: $77.8 million (Down -6.1%)
  15. Iceland: $1.3 million (Down -15.7%)
  16. Austria: $21.4 million (Down -22.9%)
  17. Germany: $195 million (Down -14.8%)
  18. Sweden: $33.8 million (Down -4.7%)
  19. Australia: $101.3 million (Down -3.9%)
  20. Belgium: $35.4 million (Down -14.3%)
  21. Finland: $12.4 million (Down -15.8%)
  22. Canada: $123.3 million (Down -11.2%)
  23. Bahrain: $3.6 million (Down -74.8%)
  24. France: $168.1 million (Up 0.7%)
  25. Saudi Arabia: $243.6 million (Up 2.9%)
  26. United Kingdom: $348.7 million (Down -2.1%)
  27. South Korea: $21.2 million (Up 5.9%)
  28. Malta: $2 million (Up 1.9%)
  29. Japan: $156.6 million (Down -12.9%)
  30. New Zealand: $26.5 million (Up 9.1%)

Among the above wealthiest economies per capita, 9 spent more on imported tea in 2020 compared to 2019. The leading gainers were Hong Kong (up 19%), New Zealand (up 9.1%), Switzerland (up 6.3%), South Korea (up 5.9%) and the Netherlands (up 5.7%).

Registering double-digit declines in their annual purchases of imported tea were: Bahrain (down -74.8%), Brunei Darussalam (down -34.8%), Austria (down -22.9%), United Arab Emirates (down -21.7%) and Finland (down -15.8%).

US Demand for Imported Tea

In 2020, the United States of America retained its place as the world’s second-biggest market for imported tea sales behind only Pakistan. US demand for imported tea was worth $473.8 million in US dollars.

America’s 5 biggest tea suppliers (Japan, India, China, Argentina, Sri Lanka) furnished just over three-fifths (61.3%) of total US purchases of tea from international markets.

The following 15 countries benefited the most from selling imported tea to customers in the United States during 2020.

  1. Japan: US$81.4 million (17.2% of US total)
  2. India: $59 million (12.4%)
  3. China: $53.7 million (11.3%)
  4. Argentina: $53.6 million (11.3%)
  5. Sri Lanka: $41.6 million (8.8%)
  6. Canada: $37.4 million (7.9%)
  7. Poland: $19.9 million (4.2%)
  8. United Kingdom: $17.4 million (3.7%)
  9. Taiwan: $16 million (3.4%)
  10. Germany: $13.9 million (2.9%)
  11. Malawi: $11 million (2.3%)
  12. Indonesia: $8.4 million (1.8%)
  13. Vietnam: $7.3 million (1.5%)
  14. Kenya: $6.8 million (1.4%)
  15. United Arab Emirates: $6.4 million (1.3%)

The above 15 international providers sold 91.5% of the $473.8 million worth of imported tea delivered to the United States during 2020.

Year over year, the fastest-growing suppliers of tea to American buyers from 2019 to 2020 were the United Arab Emirates (up 57.6%), Japan (up 31.5%), United Kingdom (up 19.2%) and Poland (up 17.4%).

Unit Costs by Major US Tea Suppliers

The United States of America paid a wide range of unit costs per ton of imported tea in 2020, depending on the tea shipper’s country of origin.

Below, you will find the average unit price that American importers paid to 15 of the top suppliers of tea to the US in 2020. They are presented in descending order starting with the nations that supplied the highest total dollar value worth of tea that the US bought on international markets.

  1. Japan: US$37,459 per ton (up 6% from 2019)
  2. India: $4,299 (down -0.3%)
  3. China: $4,664 (down -0.4%)
  4. Argentina: $1,395 (down -1.7%)
  5. Sri Lanka: $6,691 (down -3%)
  6. Canada: $15,680 (up 14.5%)
  7. Poland: $10,466 (down -12.5%)
  8. United Kingdom: $12,722 (up 16.7%)
  9. Taiwan: $7,224 (down -4.1%)
  10. Germany: $5,961 (down -12.6%)
  11. Malawi: $2,389 (down -9.8%)
  12. Indonesia: $2,237 (down -7.6%)
  13. Vietnam: $1,453 (up 5.1%)
  14. Kenya: $2,766 (down -9%)
  15. United Arab Emirates: $11,244 (down -20%)

The lowest unit costs per ton of tea imported into the United States belongs to suppliers in Argentina, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malawi.

America pays the highest unit price per ton of tea to suppliers in Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and Poland.

There were 4 growers in unit cost per ton charged by top tea suppliers to America. Specifically, these increases belong to the United Kingdom (up 16.7% from 2019), Canada (up 14.5%), Japan (up 6%) and Vietnam (up 5.1%).

World’s Biggest Tea Makers

The following 8 largest multinationals sell tea both domestically and on international markets. They also produce other products which are also behind the market capitalizations shown.

  1. Tata Consumer Products (Mumbai, India): US$7.581 billion
  2. Ito En (Tokyo, Japan): $6.262 billion
  3. Bombay Burma Trading Corp (Mumbai, India): $1.246 billion
  4. Taiwan Tea Corp (Taipei, Taiwan): $504 million
  5. CCL Products (Hyderabad, India): $488 million
  6. Tata Coffee (Karnataka, India): $276 million
  7. Ten Ren Tea (Taipei, Taiwan): $120 million
  8. Andrew Yule & Co (Kolkata, India): $102 million

Five among the above mammoth tea companies is located in India, while 2 are headquartered in Taiwan.

See also

More great research: Best Global Consumer Markets for Selling Imported Diamonds, Most Valuable Markets for Selling Imported Sugar, Best Global Consumer Markets for Selling Imported Coffee, Best Global Consumer Markets for Selling Jewelry, Best Global Consumer Markets for Selling Imported Wine

References

Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational portals.

BoyceWire, Consumer Goods Definition.

Eat By Date, How Long Does Tea Last?.

Forbes, The Forbes Global 2000 List.

International Trade Centre, Trade Map.

Investopedia, Consumer Goods, Consumer Staples Definition, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).

Richest Country Reports, Top 50 Richest Countries by GDP per Capita.

Romantic homes, 10 Fun Facts About Tea.

United States Census Bureau, Foreign Trade State Data.

USITC DataWeb, US Merchandise Trade: Imports for Consumption.

Value Today, World Top Tea Companies List by Market Cap.

Wikipedia, Tea.

World’s Top Exports, Tea Imports by Country.

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