Need to Know (August 26, 2013)

What beverage professionals need to know to start the week.

Tea trade in the Middle East is disrupted again by Egyptian unrest and harvest challenges in Iran compound that countries ability to meet domestic needs. Protests for a political home for the Nepali-speaking Gorka in the far northern portion of West Bengal, India continue to disrupted Darjeeling commerce.

Import/Export

MOMBASA, Kenya — Thirty percent of Kenya’s tea exports are usually destined for Egypt, but political protests and clashes with the military in that troubled country has halted auction purchases.

The capitals of the two African nations are only 2,400 miles apart and relations are generally cordial but there are signs a gap in trade between the two countries is growing due to the upheaval.

Last year Egypt purchased $252 million of the $1.14 billion Kenya earned on tea exports. So far this month, Egyptian buyers have not even bid at the weekly tea auction in Mombasa. During the first half of the year Egyptians ordered 10 million kilos of Kenyan tea, making the country Kenya’s third largest export destination but since then Egypt has fallen to 6th place, according to the All Africa news service.

The sudden reduction in demand cannot be quickly replaced with new markets and will likely destabilize prices. Raw tea leaves are currently selling for $2.50 a kilo and processed tea prices fell to $6.50, a drop of 23-cents per kilo since July. Further declines are expected.

There are about 420,000 small growers in Kenya under the control of the Kenya Tea Development Agency. In response to weak demand growers will soon be limited in how many kilograms of tea they can deliver to tea collection points, creating an unwelcome surplus and making it unlikely they will be able to recover their production costs. Learn more.

Health News

FLORENCE, Italy – Researchers in Italy found that green tea extracts are useful in treating malaria. The in vitro study indicates “…a crude extract of green tea as well as two of its main constituents, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin gallate (ECG), strongly inhibit Plasmodium falciparum growth. Both these catechins are found to potentiate the antimalarial effects of artemisinin (a key malaria treatment).”

Malaria parasites infect 219 million  people each year, killing 660,000. Ninety percent of malaria deaths are in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

Used in combination with artemisinin the crude extract showed 12 times greater efficacy in killing the malaria parasite.

Plandai Biotechnology reports similar findings in a study at St. George’s London School of Medicine. Tests there showed the company’s Phytofare™ Catechin Complex was effective in killing malaria parasites. The company is growing 3000 hectares of tea for extract and hopes to soon bring a refined extract to market.

The authors at the University of Florence study conclude tea extracts “are very abundant and widespread in the malaria endemic countries, are cheap and easily accessible, safe and virtually lacking of systemic toxicity. Our results might pave the way toward the development of these substances into effective antimalarial agents. Moreover, the additive/sub-synergistic interaction observed between EGCG or ECG and artemisinin might be conveniently exploited to design new and/or more effective combination therapies.”

Antimalarial Properties of Green Tea, Department of Infectious, Parasitic and Immunomediated Diseases, Vector-Borne Diseases and International Health Section, Istituto Superiore di Sanit, Florence, Italy.

Origin

COIMBATORE, India – Incessant monsoon rains have dampened supply and significantly cut South India tea exports. The auction center in Coimbatore has seen volumes drop to 320 metric tons a week, down from 500 metric tons during the same period last year, according to the United Planters’ Association of Southern India (UPASI). Prices are holding after climbing 17 percent last year; however, export totals are likely to fall when compared to 2012 when South India’s gardens exported around 80,000 metric tons of the 240,000 metric tons the gardens produced. Learn more.

Chefmate Kettle Recalled

Chefmate Kettle Recalled

Retail News

Two-quart Chefmate tea kettles pose a burn hazard and are being recalled. The $9 kettles, made by Wilton Industries, were sold exclusively at Target stores in the U.S. and Canada and on Target.com between January 2006 and May 2013.

The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission advised that steam can travel up the stove top kettle’s handle and hot water may spill from the spout. Whistles in the 700,000 kettles also may not sound due to steam leaks. As a result if the water evaporates the bottom of the aluminum kettle could melt. Anyone who owns of these kettles should stop using it and return it to Target for a full refund. Learn more from the CSPC or by calling (866) 255-9237 toll-free between 8 and 4:30 p.m. CST Monday through Thursday and 8 to 1 p.m. Friday.

Innovation

Stevia, a natural no-calorie sweetener growing in popularity and used in bottled tea, is sometimes criticized by consumers for a lingering and somewhat bitter aftertaste.

In response, Treatt Innovation Manager Michael Britten-Kelly said the flavors and fragrances company has created a new tea formula that accentuates tea’s natural astringency.

New additions to the company’s product line include Green Tea TrueTaste® Natural 200 which is a 200-fold iced tea concentrate made with natural tea ingredients and White Tea Type WONF (With Other Natural Flavors).

When reconstituted the RTD tea contains a minimum of 0.04 percent tea solids which impart the authentic color of tea without adding caramel coloring, according to the company.

These blends of tea and other botanicals soften “harsh undertones” and allow more subtle flavors to come through when combined with stevia, he said. The white blend preserves the delicate aroma traditionally associated with white tea while conferring subtle, fruity white tea notes and a more robust, tenacious finish in ready-to-drink applications. Dosage levels vary from 1000 to 5,000 parts per million in the finished beverage depending on the intensity desired, according to Britten-Kelly. Learn more at Treatt.

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