Monday, February 25, 2008

England Goes Foodie, Tea Prices on the Rise?

England is following and surpassing the American trend of "going foodie." Acoording to a recent article on CNN, they are getting ahead of the American trend towards for organic, fair trade, and local: the British govenrment has even asked retailers to develop "eco-labels" that indicate the environmental impact of each product. The focus is much more on sustainability than on personal health. (It seems to me that most Americans are more interested in their own health than the planet's when it comes to organic food production.) The ethical treatment of animals (still a mojor taboo in the US, despite all of PETA's well-meaning efforts) has also gained some attention in the press on both sides of the issue.

I wonder how the foodie movement in one of the world's biggest tea-drinking nations will impact the tea market. Will more plantations and gardens go organic/biodynamic? Will packaging be altered to be more sustainable and will marketing begin to reflect the (in many cases, newfound) sustainability more? As tastes change in England, will the ubiquitous teabag be replaced more and more by loose leaf tea?

As for the prices, it is already predicted that tea prices will rise in 2008 due to civil unrest in Kenya. Of course, most tea production in Kenya is CTC at present, so it may not impact the prices of loose leaf. Perhaps a price increase in CTC black tea (Kenya's main tea product and England's favorite cuppa) will actually encourage a shift to loose leaf. We shall see!

EDITED TO ADD: A new article on the UK's efforts to make grocery stores more sustainable, ethical, and healthy. Yay!

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