Russia is the biggest market value wise, though No. 2 in terms of volume behind Iraq. In 2018, Russia imported 30.5 million kilograms worth $ 154 million.
It is the first time in the 150 years of Ceylon Tea that the Government is conducting a massive global promotion campaign of this magnitude, according to the Sri Lanka Tea Board.
“We are all set to launch our global promotion campaign in Moscow on 25 September. The kick-off of the promotions will then be followed by the advertising and publicity campaign scheduled in Ukraine in October,” Sri Lanka Tea Board Chairman Lucille Wijewardena told Daily FT.
Noting that Russia was one of the key export markets for Ceylon Tea, he said SLTB had earmarked Rs. 600 million for Russia and Rs. 200 million for Ukraine until 2021 under the global campaign.
Thereafter, Wijewardena said the promotional campaign drive would be rolled out in two vital Far Eastern countries — Japan and China.
The other target markets within the campaign include the US, Australia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Chile and Germany.
A budget of $ 50 million (Rs. 8.75 billion) has been allocated for this unprecedented propaganda campaign, Wijewardena added.
He also noted that SLTB had refocused its promotion campaign from expensive traditional methods to more effective social media platforms to reach out to a larger audience.
“Although we have concentrated on some conventional mediums, we have given more focus on digital media platforms to get across to the young generation of tea drinkers. Therefore, the majority of the funds have been refocused on social media platform promotions,” he added.
Acknowledging the great delay on their part, Wijewardena pointed out that it was due to Government red tape and tedious tender procedures. “When it comes to Government spending, the procedure is not easy. We cannot make ad-hoc decisions. We have to ensure on the return on investment,” he said.
He also cited the receipt of the ‘ceylontea.com’ domain as a big boost for the Sri Lanka’s third largest foreign exchange earning industry.
The SLTB Chairman said they expected tea export earnings to be over $ 1.5 billion by the end of the year.