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How Tour du Rwanda has boosted local consumption of Rwanda Tea

For the last four editions of Tour du Rwanda, Rwanda Tea brand has been partnering with the Rwanda Cycling Federation (FERWACY) as a top sponsor, with the aim of creating more awareness on different tea brands produced in Rwanda.

 Four years down the road, the partnership between National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) and Rwanda Tea Association, an umbrella of tea producers, has paid off, making Rwanda Tea brand an outstanding one during the annual international cycling competition.

‘Rwanda Tea – A Natural Reawakening’ which was launched in 2017, brings together different tea brands from Rwanda, to be marketed under one national brand. Since its launch, Rwanda Tea has boosted not only regional and international markets for Rwandan tea but it has also increased local consumption.

 “We have the number of Rwandans who consume Rwanda Tea increase by 5 per cent over the last couple of years, thanks to more awareness on the brand. Many Rwandans today know about their own tea and enjoy consuming it,” said Cynthia Mata Uwacu, the Export Market Development and Innovation Division Manager at NAEB.

 During the 12th edition of Tour du Rwanda, which started on February 23 and ended on March 1, Rwanda Tea served at least 5,600 cups on all the 8 stages of the cycling competition while the demand of tea products was overwhelming.

 “We are glad that more people are discovering the natural reawakening in Rwanda Tea. We are seeing more and more people gaining interest in consuming Rwanda Tea, which takes away the notion that tea is only for export or for the elite,” said Issa Nkurunziza, the head of Tea Division at NAEB.

 Rwanda Tea Brand came on board again to use Tour du Rwanda as a platform to market different Rwandan tea brands grouped under one umbrella “Rwanda Tea”, as part of the efforts to ensure that many people not only in Rwanda but across the globe know Rwandan tea and appreciate its quality.

 Following successful previous sponsorships of the 9th, 10th and 11th editions of Tour du Rwanda, the national tea brand decided to continue as a top sponsor of the cycling competition which attracted 16 teams and 80 riders from Rwanda and across the globe.

 According to Ms. Uwacu, The decision to sponsor the cycling race was based on the impact registered from the last 3 editions, not just in terms of visibility but also in terms of gaining a new consumer base, business opportunities, new markets and general appreciation of Rwandan tea by nationals and visitors.

 “The cycling competition has become an international fixture on the cycling calendar, attracting world class teams and huge coverage by the media across the globe,”

 Rwanda Tea brand which was launched in 2017 has continued to promote Rwandan tea products across the world, making teas from Rwanda recognized as some of the best and being of high premium quality compared to tea from other parts of the world.

 Rwanda at the moment has 16 tea processing factories scattered across the country which are continuously improving the quality of tea produced in Rwanda, hence the growing reputation in quality.

 Beyond making tea the leading export, tea production has greatly contributed to socio-economic development, rural wealth distribution, job creation and infrastructure development.

 In Rwanda, tea growing has expanded steadily since its introduction in 1952. By the end of financial year 2018/2019, the Rwandan tea producers had exported 30.573 MT of which they generated $83,552,108 from a total area under tea production of 27,112 hectares.

 This year, Rwanda Tea awarded the Yellow Jersey to the race leader. The Yellow Jersey is the most superior of all jerseys given to riders at every end of stage.

 Also known as the ‘maillot jaune’, the Yellow Jersey is the most coveted clothing in international professional cycling. The wearer is the rider who has completed the race in the least amount of time, and as such tops the overall or General Classification (GC) of the race.

 Rwanda Tea goodies while Rwanda Tea was displayed on the backdrop screen. The awarding of the Yellow Jersey receives more focus from the media than any other jersey awarded at the end of every stage.

 “It was a very good opportunity for us to showcase Rwanda Tea at the international stage. This year Tour du Rwanda was followed by people in Latin America, Middle East and Far East give that there were teams from Colombia, Israel and Malaysia as well as European teams,”

 “The race was followed by over 40 million people across the globe on television and online, especially social media. We are confident that at the end of the tour, many people knew Rwanda Tea,” says Ntwari.

 As a top sponsor, this year Rwanda Tea awarded the Yellow Jersey to the leader at every stage and the overall winner of the tour, Eritrean Natnael Tesfazion, who won after the 8th stage on March 1, 2020, beating the rest to conquer the 889 Km tour.

 Sold under the catchword “A natural reawakening”, Rwanda Tea seeks to share the unique taste of Rwanda’s speciality teas, grown on slopes and in valleys with the rest of the world.

 Since Rwanda Tea started sponsoring Tour du Rwanda, domestic consumption of locally produced teas increased by 2 percent in the 1st year of sponsorship and 7 percent in 2020.

 It is expected that Rwandans will increasingly appreciate and enjoy their own tea, demystifying the notion that tea is for export.