• India Abandons Bharat Tea Auction Experiment and Returns to English Auction Rules

    | Retail Sales Projections are Ho-Hum for the Holidays: Sales growth adjusted for inflation will be in the single digits, the lowest growth rate since 2018
    | UC Davis Global Tea Institute Launches a Training Program for Tea Professionals

    PLUS | More than 30,000 tea workers and supporters, mainly from the indigenous Bataga Community living in Ooty, Kothagiri, and Coonoor in the Nilgiris mountains of South India, participated in a silent hunger protest on behalf of farmers. The demonstrations ended last week, but only after the High Court took cognizance of the petitions that urgently plead the case for fixing a minimum price for green leaf. Aravinda Anantharaman reports.

    Tea News for the week ending Sept 29
    Hear the Headlines | Seven-minute Tea News Update

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    Ho-hum holiday sales projected
    Holiday sales forecasts are in the single digits, online sales estimates are more upbeat.

    Retail Sales Projections are Ho-Hum for the Holidays

    By Dan Bolton

    North American consumers are “trading down,” leading to projections of ho-hum holiday sales based on pre-season surveys. 

    “Consumers are skittish, and retailers will have to be on their toes, focused on making sure the products and the prices are right,” writes Forbes, quoting marketers who anticipate “a modest increase in sales with narrowing margins.” 

    Adjusted for inflation, Bain & Company projects real US holiday retail sales in the low single-digits, well below the 10-year average and the lowest since the financial crisis. 

    Deloitte writes that holiday sales will likely increase between 3.5% and 4.6% in 2023. According to Deloitte, E-commerce holiday sales are projected to grow between 10.3% to 12.8% compared to the 2022 season.

    Overall, Deloitte projects holiday sales will total $1.54 to $1.56 trillion from November to January. In 2022, holiday sales grew by 7.6% and totaled $1.49 trillion in the same period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

    Deloitte forecasts e-commerce sales will grow to between $278 billion and $284 billion this season. A survey by Bankrate reveals that 39% of holiday shoppers plan to do most of their shopping online, while 23% plan to shop in person. 

    Bankrate found that 50% of holiday shoppers will begin before Halloween, with 12% starting as early as September. November is the busiest month for shoppers, but 13% percent say they don’t shop until December, according to Bankrate. 

    More than half (54%) say they feel financially burdened this year, with 33% saying inflation will change how they shop. Another 25% expect higher prices to strain their budgets, and 13% attribute their shopping stress to concerns they will be forced to spend more than they’re comfortable spending. 

    “While September feels early to be talking about holiday shopping, it’s very smart to start thinking about it well ahead of time,” writes Bankrate. 

    BIZ INSIGHT – Sales of conventional hot tea are flat. In contrast, globally, sales of functional teas are growing at a faster 6.4% pace that is expected to accelerate through 2027. The market for herbal teas will add $885 million in sales by 2027, according to Technavio

    “Millennials and baby boomers are expected to be the major customer base for the herbal tea market as they make up the majority of the current workforce,” according to Technavio.

    Shifting consumer preference towards online sales channels positively impacts the growth of the global herbal tea market, writes Technavio. Demand for herbal teas is expected to increase as consumers become more health conscious. Online channels offer consumers a wide range of products at discounted prices,” according to Technavio.  

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    Episodes 50-96

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  • New Report Examines the Causes of Gender-based Abuse in Tea

    | A 70-page case study explains the lapses at James Finlay Kenya that led to the BBC exposé Sex for Work: The True Cost of Our Tea
    | Tea Price Protests in South India Continue for the Third Week
    | High Temps Lower Yields of  Türkiye’s Black Sea Tea

    PLUS | This week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Committee, meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, inscribed the Cultural Landscape of Old Tea Forests of Jingmai Mountain in China’s Yunnan Province as a World Heritage site.

    Tea News for the week ending Sept 22
    Hear the Headlines | Seven-Minute Tea News Recap

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    New Report by Women Working Worldwide and THIRST Examines Causes of Gender-based Abuse in Tea

    By Dan Bolton

    Widespread gender-based violence and harassment concealed in commodity supply chains withers in the public spotlight, according to a consortium of gender and tea sector experts. 

    This week, the consortium, led by Women Working Worldwide and THIRST, the International Roundtable for Sustainable Tea, published a report that “describes the underlying causes and multiple perilous risk factors associated with gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) for women producing and processing tea.” 

    The report opens with a case study of James Finlay Kenya, a company featured in the BBC Panorama exposé, “Sex for Work: The True Cost of our Tea,” aired in February 2023. 

    Titled “Consent. Just consent. Then you can come to work.” (a direct quote from the exposé),” the 70-page report scrutinizes the challenges within the tea sector, pinpointing how GBVH enablers manifest specifically within the tea sector. 

    An infographic developed by THIRST and WWW with tea sustainability expert Michael Pennant-Jones illustrates 15 “risk points” along the supply chain. Smallholders, for example, risk abuse due to invisibility and lack of coverage by labor laws. There is a power imbalance at weigh stations where clerks or supervisors determine daily payments. In the factory, women risk abuse associated with allocating tasks, shifts, and working hours. On plantations, women face domestic violence and abuse risks in allocating housing and security issues. 

    In a press release, the authors explain their roles in supporting James Finlay in formulating and assessing gender policies, so they are ideally placed to explore why they ultimately failed to protect women on these tea estates.

    “The document delves into James Finlay’s journey in establishing these policies and the supplementary measures taken to integrate women’s protection into their operations,” reads the release. 

    “A central issue highlighted is the persistently low wages for female tea workers, resulting in malnutrition, indebtedness, and the adoption of precarious survival strategies, such as transactional sex. Gender-based pay disparities exacerbate women’s vulnerability, with many relying on piece-rated plucking to bolster their earnings, even if they reside on the estate. Mechanization of harvesting further exacerbates the problem by rendering numerous women tea pluckers redundant, particularly in East Africa.

    Furthermore, women in the tea sector frequently shoulder sole responsibility for their families, managing both unpaid domestic care work and paid employment. This dual burden often confines them to abusive work environments. The report is available to download at no charge at www.THIRST.international or www.women-ww.org

    Episodes 1-49

    Episodes 50-96

    Episodes 97-135

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