2019 green tea is expensive. The price of fresh tea (first-grade tea) at trade fairs in various places doubled from 20% higher than the previous year. In addition to the delayed growth due to the cold weather in early spring, special factors such as demand before the 10-day holiday pushed up the price. However, the diversification of food habits in Japan may lead to a shift away from green tea, and high prices may accelerate the decline in demand. The tea industry is trying to bolster exports of green tea.
The price of new tea started significantly higher than the previous year (19th, Shizuoka tea market)
At the first trading event held at the Shizuoka Tea Market (Shizuoka City) on the 19th, the average unit price of tea leaves from Shizuoka Prefecture, which accounts for 40% of domestic production, was 8,282 yen per kilogram, the highest price in seven years, 2.2 times higher than the previous year. . "We were unable to secure shipments due to the sudden drop in leaf growth due to the cold weather from the end of March" (JA Shizuoka Keizairen = Shizuoka City).
At the Kagoshima Prefecture Tea Market (Kagoshima City) in Kagoshima Prefecture, which accounts for 30% of national production, the average unit price of tea in the prefecture as of the 19th was 2,262 yen per kilogram, 30% higher than the previous year. Even at the JA Zen-noh Fukuren Tea Trading Center (Yame City, Fukuoka Prefecture), tea leaves from Fukuoka Prefecture are 20% more expensive.
The last-minute demand before the long holidays is also behind the high prices. Yukitoshi Uchida, president of Shizuoka Tea Market, said, "There were more orders than usual from traders who wanted to stock up before the 10-day weekend."
Trading prices for tea leaves have fallen in recent years, although prices have risen this year. According to a survey by the National Federation of Tea Producers Associations (Chiyoda, Tokyo), the annual trading price of all tea leaves fell 15% in 10 years to 1,477 yen per kilogram in 2017. While the production volume in recent years has remained flat, the consumption of green tea has decreased by about 20% even during the same period.
The main reason for the slump in demand is that people are moving away from green tea due to the effects of food diversification and nuclear families. The main way to drink it in a teapot is avoided because it takes time and effort. Although bottled beverages are on the rise, they are not strong enough to boost demand for green tea. The tea leaves used for green tea in PET bottles are low-priced items such as second-grade tea, and Yasushi Harada, chairman of Harada Tea Co. (Shimada City, Shizuoka Prefecture), said, ``For the same amount of water, the amount of tea leaves consumed is about one-tenth that of drinking in a teapot.'' It says.
The 2019 production started at a higher transaction price than last year, but there is a possibility that the price will drop after the end of April, when shipments from Shizuoka and other areas will peak. Although the cold weather has temporarily slowed the growth of tea leaves, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, temperatures are expected to exceed normal from April to June in the Kanto and Kyushu regions, where tea leaves are grown. According to JA Kagoshima Prefectural Economic Federation (Kagoshima City), there is also a view that "the number of shipments will gradually increase as the temperature rises."