Dutch grant to help expand South Africa rooibos exports
The South African Rooibos Council has secured 1.2 million rand in funding to shore up the export competitiveness of the country’s indigenous herbal tea. The grant will be used during the second phase of a technical-assistance project financed by the Dutch Government that aims to improve the volume and value of rooibos exports.
The funding is spent on an in-depth analysis of the way production data are collected, analysed and disseminated. This will help ensure better production forecasts, supply capacity and provide assistance to limit excessive price fluctuations — all of which are major concerns for importers.
The International Trade Centre is managing the project through the Netherlands Trust Fund II (NTF II), which is run in collaboration with the Netherlands’ Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries.
The initial six-month-phase involved an analysis of the German rooibos market and the potential for direct exports of value-added rooibos products in markets where tea is re-shipped from Germany, the world’s top importer of rooibos. Many of the biggest European tea merchants are based in Hamburg, and Germany accounts for 2,500 tonnes of total 6,000 tonnes of rooibos exported from South Africa annually. Other major markets are the Netherlands, at 1,085 tonnes, and the UK, which imports 860 tonnes of rooibos each year.
As a result of the first study, the South African Rooibos Council’s has extended a marketing campaign in Germany to also include Austria and Switzerland. Both countries are key herbal-tea markets served by the large German distributors. The council is also finalising an export-development plan and has identified Dubai and Chinese Taipei as two potential new markets. Both are established herbal-tea markets and importers have already expressed interest in the South African tea.
According to Donneé MacDougall, Marketing Director of the South African Rooibos Council marketing director, capitalising on export potential will be an important next step for the industry.
‘We first needed to understand the export markets and what the opportunities were,’ she said. ‘Now the project is starting to deliver practical benefits both in terms of ensuring accurate supply data and predictable pricing and starting to develop new markets.’
MacDougall also said that the council was looking at diversifying the export of rooibos. 'We’ve seen good domestic growth, and if we can increase exports, particularly of value-added-products rather than just bulk tea, it could provide a significant boost which would benefit the entire sector, from farmers to manufacturers,' she said.