All you need to know about starting a Tea Business in India

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India is a world leader when it comes to tea-growing because of its favourable climate and abundant supply of labour. The FSSAI has released guidelines specifying the rules and regulations that tea businesses in the country need to follow. So, what is the FSSAI license for a tea business in India, and why do we require this food license for tea business? In this article, we will take a quick look at how to obtain a tea business license in India, and the FSSAI guidelines regarding the same.

Regulatory Authorities for Tea Business in India

The tea industry, under an Act of the Parliament, is under the control of the Union government. A number of authorities have been set up to regulate the tea industry in India. Some of the authorities and agencies are listed below:

  • Tea Board of India
  • Tea Act, 1953
  • The Tea (Marketing) Control Order, 2003
  • The Tea (Distribution & Export) Control Order, 2005
  • The Tea Waste (Control) Order, 1959
  • The Tea Warehouse (Licensing) Order, 1989

FSSAI license for a tea business in India

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India oversees the regulation of all food-related licenses in India. Tea is a very popular drink in India, consumed almost throughout the country. As a result, the FSSAI must have checks and balances in place to ensure that the tea sold is safe for consumption. Hence, a tea business license helps in ensuring the public that the tea they are consuming follows the required food safety protocol. It also helps in proving that the product is free from contamination or adulteration. Hence, approval from the FSSAI is necessary if you wish to start a tea business in India. All tea businesses, whether they be for exporting purposes or local consumption, require a food license for tea business.

Varieties of tea as per the FSSAI

As per FSSAI regulations, tea comes under the category of beverages, and is mainly of the following three subtypes;

  • Tea – Any tea other than the Kangra tea made from the leaves, tender stems, and buds of the plant Camellia sinensis. This sub-type includes all varieties of Black and Oolong tea.
  • Kangra Tea – Special tea made from the buds, stems, or leaves of the Camellia sinensis that grows in the esteemed Kangra and Mandi valleys. Located in the foothills of Himachal Pradesh, these are exquisite teas that have a unique flavour.
  • Green Tea – Tea is derived from processes such as rolling, drying, and inactivation of the buds or leaves of certain species of the Camellia Sinensis.

All teas must have a characteristic flavour and should not have any foul odour, taint, or mustiness to it. Furthermore, it cannot have any contaminants in it, in the form of insects, molds, and other harmful substances. Also, the product must be free from extraneous matter, such as food colouring and other chemical substances. The only flavouring agents allowed are natural ones, derived from plants which are safe for human consumption. In case the tea features added flavours, the manufacturer should mention the same distinctly through labels and declarations as per the rules. Also, before marketing flavoured tea, the manufacturer should register with the Indian Tea Board.

Tea business in India

Labelling requirement under FSSAI

Before Applying for Food License, it is mandatory to follow the product labelling requirement as prescribed by the FSSAI dept and the label must bear all the relevant and important information before it is ready for sale in the market. The package must carry a label with the information mentioned below:

  • Common Name of the Product;
  • Name and address of the manufacturer;
  • Date of manufacturing;
  • Expiration Date;
  • Net Weight of the content by volume, weight or count;
  • Ingredients details with additives;
  • Packaging Codes/ Batch Number;
  • Country of origin for imported food.

The label must have content that is clear, prominent, and easily readable by the consumers. The label of the product must not contain or describe any content that is false or deceptive or is likely to generate erroneous impression to its character in any respect.

Product Testing and Approval norms for Tea Business in India

There are several food safety constraints that need to be tested before the food product is launched on the market. The food is tested in the NABL labs to make sure that the food product is as per the regulations and quality compliance. Also, product approval is imperative for tea manufacturers before selling it to the public. There are many rules and regulations mentioned under the FSSAI, which continues to get updated over time. Therefore, for the manufacturers, it might become quite difficult to understand the procedure for the FSSAI Product approval and FSSAI registration is required well on time.

In that case, it is wise to utilize the assistance of a professional FSSAI consultant that can guide and help in fulfilling all compliance and obtaining the required license or registration. These consultants have a comprehensive knowledge of the rules and regulations of FSSAI. These FSSAI consultants help in the entire procedure, from the initial consultation to document preparation, application drafting, product testing, approval and submitting the application. They take care of all the minute details and offer excellent service at cost-effective prices.

If you want assistance in obtaining license, registration, or product approval through FSSAI, then it is wise to avail yourself of the service of a professional consultant as they help to make the process convenient and hassle-free.

Essential regulations to be known by a tea business aspirant

  • FSSAI has prohibited the use of any colouring substance in tea;
  • It has allowed the use of 0.2% pectinase enzyme for enhancement of flavouring characteristics in tea;
  • The use of natural flavours and the use of natural flavouring substances is permitted in tea;
  • Like every other food business operators, all tea businesses should obtain a FSSAI license for activities such as manufacturing, marketing, retail etc.

Final Thoughts

The Indian tea industry is one is the oldest and largest in the world, accounting for 31% of global production. It is extremely labour intensive and is the largest employer in the country after the Indian Railways. The tea industry has always enjoyed the government’s support due to its status as a mass employer. Thus, the government has often provided international support to the industry by lobbying extensively with the WTO and passed resolutions to provide domestic support to it.

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