NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19 – The recently launched Mark of Origin for Kenyan products has now been unveiled in the UK, as Kenyan tea sold in that country displayed the new branding with plans to introduce it in the US market.
Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) Managing Director Sicily Kariuki said the mark is to support the tea industry in value addition activities and reinforce its position in the global market.
“The mark of origin is a platform upon which future promotion activities will be based. We also hope the mark will help mitigate counterfeiting and adulteration of Kenyan tea, safeguarding its reputation and giving guarantee to the consumer,” she said.
She spoke during an award ceremony recognising the pioneers of the Kenya tea mark of origin where six local firms were feted for their initiative in displaying the mark of origin on their products, since it was launched last year.
Kenya is the world’s largest tea exporter, accounting for 26 percent of total volumes.
However, over 95 percent of what is locally produced is widely used as a hidden product for blending.
The need to operate higher up in the value chain and have a bigger share of the returns accrued from the final consumer, Ms Kariuki said, were compelling reasons to develop the mark.
The Board’s Chairman Titus Kipyab said as more local companies make an effort to embrace the mark of origin the industry will be able to increase the level of tea exports in smaller quantities.
“The successful implementation of the Kenya tea mark of origin is intended to raise the levels of tea exported in packages of less than 10 kilograms and instant tea less than 10 percent of the total export volume of about 40 million kilograms,” he said.
The Board also announced another branding initiative on Geographic Indication whose development, Mr Kipyab said, is at an advanced stage and will soon be unveiled.
In 2010, tea was the leading foreign exchange earner contributing Sh97 billion to the Kenyan economy.
Value added tea exports have doubled over the last two years, currently standing at 12 percent, a promising indicator considering the increasing labour costs and rising prices in the global tea market.
Currently, Kenya exports value added tea to Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Zanzibar, Egypt and the US.