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Turkey's powerhouse status at risk from evolving climate

January 2015

Crown threatened

The omnipresence of tea across Turkey, traditionally drunk from tiny tulip glasses, has propelled the country to the very top of world rankings in terms of consumption and production. Yet, despite the world's highest per capita tea consumption and fifth highest output in volume, Turkey's tea industry remains particularly sensitive to the effects of climate change. In recent years, farmers have dealt with erratic conditions: from land slides caused by heavy rainfall, to heavy frost, which delayed harvesting by several weeks. However, the most pressing issue remains the gradual reduction of overall rainfall in the region, which is crucial for plant growth. Turkey's output reflects this and has been deteriorating quickly since 2011, dipping below 200,000 tons last year.

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How medical research on tea can shape your target audience

February 2012

New business consultant?
Evidence about health benefits of tea continues to pile up in 2012. The year is barely a couple of months old, yet it has already witnessed several studies and reviews confirming long-held assumptions about the positive effects of tea drinking. The most noteworthy one is probably a Japanese study that found that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of frailty and disability as they grow older. Over 14,000 elderly citizens were followed for 3 years, which is no small feat in itself, and shows just how rigorous research around tea has become. Green tea drinkers were shown to suffer less from functional disabilities in performing everyday tasks like bathing or dressing. Interpreting these results in the context of West’s aging population shows how much potential the beverage may have as a healthy and cost-effective alternative (or supplement) to traditional medication.

But green tea was not the only variety in the spotlight. A study from Australia and a review from the UK lent further credence to the notion that black tea is just as healthy as its green cousin. According to research, black tea was found to lower blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. It may also cut levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood sugar. Again, given that heart disease is one of the major causes of death in industrialized countries, the regular cuppa is starting to look like an increasingly promising and unobtrusive solution to keep your health in check.

From a business point of view, tea manufacturers operate under two long-held beliefs: that the 30-50 year old female is the current primary customer and that conquering the young and hip generation of teens and twentysomethings is the only way to expand the category in the years to come. Both points are certainly valid, but they somewhat fail to reflect the economic and demographic realities of today. That is because the future, at least for the next couple of decades at least, actually belongs an entire population of baby-boomers that is currently entering retirement.

With vast amounts of wealth and legitimate concerns about ageing and health, this target should not be forgotten by tea businesses. Yes, that population may be not as gastronomically sophisticated or as creatively minded as others, yet no manufacturer or retailer can afford to neglect its impact on the bottom line, especially given that tea is so relevant to its health concerns. Indeed, most of the prominent health benefits of tea, such as reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s and obesity, to name but a few, are obviously more relevant to a baby boomer than a college student. Add to that increased health and medical awareness, more free time to enjoy meals (and brew proper tea), as well as the spending power that the elderly possess and you’ve got an offer difficult to refuse.

Viewed in this light, these medical studies are more than just about tentative scientific findings, because they may point to a somewhat new direction for the entire tea industry. Despite limitations on health claims in marketing, they offer new ways of thinking about the relevance and potential of a population that goes unnoticed far too often.

Stepas Parulis is the editor of TeaTrends and oversees Adagio's operations in Europe. He analyzes the tea industry through the prism of market and consumer trends.

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