UAE: Demand for green tea, herbal infusions more than tripled post-Covid, say experts

The dynamic of business has changed over the last two years, with people now becoming far more health-conscious and leading healthier lifestyles

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Lamya Tawfik

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Published: Wed 14 Dec 2022, 6:02 PM

Last updated: Wed 14 Dec 2022, 7:15 PM

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the kind of tea and coffee that people are consuming, health experts said on Wednesday.

Speaking in a panel discussion at the Organic Industry Conference which was part of the Organic & Natural Products Expo, tea and coffee experts said that speciality and organic tea and coffee are on the rise.

“During the last two years, the dynamic of business has changed. People have changed their lifestyles and are more health-conscious, leading healthier lifestyles,” said Mohamed Tafseer, Head of Commercial and Business Development at Baqer Mohebi Enterprises – the company that distributes Twinings tea.

He said that a subcategory that focuses on green tea and herbal infusions has more than doubled and tripled. “There’s a new way of shopping and people are buying the products even if they cost more. They want to pay more for their health,” he said, adding that this is the case despite the financial difficulties caused by the pandemic like salary reductions and people losing their jobs. “It’s a category that is growing not only in the UAE, but we also noticed it in Oman and Qatar.”

According to Vivek Hans, CEO of Bevarabia, there has been an accelerated change with more people opting for organic coffee. “When it comes to sourcing organic coffee the entire supply chain has to be organic,” he said. More and more restaurants and cafes are looking to add organic coffee to their menu – especially ones with a story behind them. “People are willing to pay a premium if you have a story to tell,” he said.

He offered an example of a restaurant in Saudi Arabia who wanted to go to a farm, choose the coffee, package it their way and then brand it. “This could be a marketing activity, but it also reflects the brand ethos and what the restaurant believes in. It’s about connecting with the audience.”

The story behind the coffee was something that Syed Naveed, Blogger, The Need for Coffee, didn’t focus on when he began being passionate about coffee. “I didn’t understand what the process was, the origins and who grew it. With time the intricacies of the industry fascinated me,” he said.

Today, he does look at different origins, and says: “the higher the altitude, the better.” He added that today, many roasteries focus on the story of the farmer, and get the consumers involved in the process.

Most cafes today are 'Instagrammable', according to Syed, and only a few focus on the quality of the coffee, which makes people come back again and again. “These are the ones in which the owners are personally involved. They talk to the consumers and improve things,” he noted.

Syed added that the speciality coffee industry focuses on direct trade with farmers, because importers know exactly what clients need – and they can talk to the farmers in the origin to fine tune the process to get what they want for the countries they’re importing to.

“Transparency is important. The importer shares information with the farmer and then gives them feedback from the consumers. This is important for both consumers and farmers,” he said.

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