How to position the brand of Indian tea in Pakistan where the use of tea from Indian estates is increasing?
A team of Indian tea producers is to visit Pakistan in the middle of April this year for what they call a 'tea branding diplomacy.
The Indian tea growers have been invited by the Pakistan Tea Association to visit the cities of Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. The last time an Indian tea delegation visited Pakistan was in July 2005.
A leading tea grower from southern India said the visit to Pakistan will be mainly to position the India brand in that country.
He said the acceptance of Indian tea is rising in Pakistan and therefore Indian traders would be now able to bag more orders.
In 2005 (January - December), India exported about a little over 10 million kg of tea to Pakistan.
The figure in 2006 will be more than 12 million kg, according to the Tea Board of India.
The Indian tea industry would like to have the figure stepped up further to 15 million kg in the current year. Some quantities of Indian tea, it is felt, are routed to Pakistan after blending at Dubai but the volume of such shipments is difficult to estimate.
Traders say the shipping service is one of the factors affecting Indian tea exports to Pakistan. Despite the signing of shipping protocol, regular direct sailings between the two countries are yet to materialise.
Direct sailings from any of India's west coast ports to Pakistan's Karachi port might not be of great help to north Indian tea shipped largely through Kolkata port.
Traders point out that if the volume is large and the buying is regular, perhaps transportation of the north Indian tea by the surface route might also be considered.
Pakistan consumes 140 million kg annually and almost the entire consumption is met by way of imports. Kenya is the biggest supplier of tea to Pakistan, an estimated 85 million kg annually.India hopes to bag a sizeable order of export orders from Pakistan, by cutting into the Kenyan market share.