GUWAHATI, Sept 14 - Tea producers are worried over the practice of the blenders and packers to claim their blended products as Assam Tea, despite using very small quantities of Assam Tea in their packeted teas. This is causing serious problems for Assam Tea. The blenders and packers should categorically tell their customers, using decipherable labels, as to what percentage of Assam Tea is there in their packets.
It has become a common practice of the packers and blenders to use some quantity of Assam Tea with the teas produced in West Bengal and South India and to claim the contents of their packets wholly as Assam Tea.
According to a press release received here today, the concern of the Assam tea industry on this issue was voiced by Dr Nazrana Ahmed, chairperson of the Assam Tea Planters’ Association (ATPA) at the interactive meet held by the Joint Forum of the ATPA, North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) and Bharatiya Cha Parishad (BCP) with the representatives of the Federation of All India Tea Traders’ Associations (FAITTA) at the Tocklai Tea Research Institute (TTRI), Jorhat yesterday.
The meet was billed as the first of its kind between the tea producers and the tea buyers/traders. FAITTA was represented in the meeting by its chairman Viren Shah and its senior advisor Monojit Dasgupta. On behalf of the buyers, representatives of the CI Ltd and Wagh Bakri were also present at the meeting.
NETA chairman Nepul Saikia said that the tea producers are finding it hard to run the show because of the non-remunerative prices they are getting against their produce. Most of the producers are now forced to sell their produce at prices much below their production costs, he regretted.
FAITTA chairman Viren Shah, in his address, laid stress on producing quality tea and urged the producers to concentrate more on producing such quality teas that comply with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) norms.
He also agreed that no one should misuse the Assam Tea logo provided by the Tea Board for use in packet teas indiscriminately. He said the Tea Board allows the packers to use this logo under certain terms and conditions and all concerned should adhere to the norms.
Director TTRI Dr AK Barooah, who was also present at the meet, moderated by NETA advisor Bidyananda Barkakoty, answered many queries relating to Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) of pesticides in tea and the FSSAI compliant teas.
The interactive meet was followed by a tea tasting session, where more than 50 different tea estates and bought leaf tea factories participated. Quality tea packet brand Jivraj9 was also placed before the experts for tasting to have a comparison with other teas.