the tea leaves
A recent statement was sent out by the Ministry of Plantation Industries
in a bid to clear up confusion circulating about the implementation
of the European Union’s (EU) Hazard Analysis Critical Control
Point System (HACCP). If there was concern that plantations not
certified would have their product banned, they need not worry.
It seems the wrong message has got out!
reason is an interesting fact found in the statement that the decision
over bringing certified or non-certified tea into the EU was down
to the importer. If the importer insisted it was “not because
of the European Commission legislation but purely because of commercial
reasons”, according to the ministry statement. So, what does
it all mean?
to Mr. D. S. Ratnasingham, director at Watawala Plantations, the
certification is not a must but a good move to ensure better quality
to a more demanding market. “It’s the correct way to
go as tea is a food and the general public is much more educated
these days as far as quality is concerned,” he said. The Watawala
factory has been certified, he said adding that such a move would
lead to higher prices at auction. “As the quality rises, then
there is a distinct advantage when it comes to better prices. It’s
an extra stamp of approval for the customer.”
the Tea Association, Mr. G. Dias-Wanigasekera said it wasn’t
just about the HACCP certification (which covers the processing
and packing side) as an EU tea committee had also recommended a
product quality certification that covers pesticide residue, microbiological
elements and heavy metal content to further ensure quality, something
the Japanese are very interested in too. When asked about how many
factories would be covered by the June deadline, he said it was
difficult to say. “You have to remember that we have factories
here that are over 100 years old, and that takes time and money
government is offering 50 percent reimbursements for certification
fees and training, but not for factory upgrades. Which makes putting
time scales forward difficult,” Mr. Dias-Wanigaseke said.
average capital needed was between Rs. 2-10 million depending on
size and age, with an average of Rs. 5 million.
Dias-Wanigaseke said that as far as importers making the decision
over the certification, they can just as easily put the onus on
the exporters to do their bidding in the light of what was wanted
to access particular markets.