Argentina produces two of the most demanded infusions in the local market: Tea and yerba mate (mate tea). Both are present in the majority of Argentine homes and are consumed at any time of the day. On the other hand, both share the same production area: Misiones and the northeast of Corrientes.

The tea plant (Camellia sinensis) is a species originated in the East that, at present, is cultivated and consumed in the five continents. With the same raw material (shoots and leaves of the above mentioned species) diverse final products are obtained, according to the method of industrialization, botanic variety, growing technologies, season, or crop type. The best known tea varieties are black tea, green tea, red tea and white tea.

It is important to point out that the region where Argentine tea is grown is the farthest south in the world, and produces mainly black tea. The principal destination of the country’s production is the export market, and year after year, Argentina is gaining importance as tea producing and exporting country.

The yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis Saint Hilaire) originated in the subtropical regions of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and its natural distribution area is restricted to those countries. It is consumed in various ways: in Argentina the most traditional form consists in placing the yerba mate in a specific container, pour hot water on it and suck the infusion by means of a special tube. When the weather is hot the water used may be cold. The mate tea may be drunk also from a cup, in which case the beverage is prepared in a way similar to tea.

This product forms part of a deep-rooted tradition in Argentina and neighboring countries, and has an enormous potential for increasing its insertion in the world market.




  • Tea growing takes place in the five continents, and each zone originates a product with differential qualities as a result of special agro-ecological conditions, farming techniques and industrialization.
  • World production of tea shows a positive trend: from 2000 to 2005, it registered a 17% volume growth. This is related to record crops in China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Kenya in 2005.


World production of Tea
Years 2000 – 2005

..Source: Food Industry Administration based on data from FAO.


  • Considering the world context, more than half of total tea production volume is contributed by India and China. From 2000 to 2004, India obtained an average of 27% of global volume, followed by China which produced 24% in the average. In 2005 this Asian country became the biggest world producer, contributing 28% to total production, followed by India with 24%.
  • Argentina has been following the world trend and has exceeded global growth registering a 44% increase in production volume in the period 2000 - 2006.


Tea production in Argentina in volume
Years 2000 – 2006

..Source: Food Industry Administration based on data from


  • Volume growth in local production is the result of technological improvements such as: adjustments in fertilization and harvesting techniques, and incorporation of clone plantations with high productivity and product quality.
  • Argentina dedicates around 40,000 hectares to this industrial crop. Ninety five percent of the country’s production area is located in the province of Misiones and the rest in Corrientes.
  • It is important to point out that Argentine tea stands out due to the color qualities it contributes to the different blends, and because it produces a translucent infusion that may be drunk either cold or hot.


  • According to data provided by the Intergovernmental Group on Tea – FAO, global tea consumption presents a positive trend, as it registered a 13% increase in the period 2001 - 2005. In this last year world consumption increased to 3.36 million tons.


World consumption of Tea in volume
Years 2000 – 2005

..Source: Food Industry Administration based on data from the
..Intergovemmental Group on Tea, FAO.


  • India maintains its position as world biggest tea consumer. In 2005, it consumed 757,000 tons, which represents 22.5% of world total. It was followed by China (20.1%) and by the Russian Federation (5.4%) in the third place. Then follow Japan 4.5%, Pakistan 4%, United Kingdom 3.8% and the United States (main destination of the Argentine tea) 3%.
  • Considering variances registered in the biggest world consumers (India, China and Russian Federation), growth rates of 13%, 36% and 15% respectively can be observed in the period 2001-2005.
  • The magnitude of local demand is far from figures registered in top world consumers. In our country, the estimated average consumption from 2000 to 2006 was 3,174 tons, with a 6% increase in 2005 and 2006.


  • There was a slight increase in the tea business volume worldwide in 2005, as global exports reached 1.53 million tons in that year compared to 1.52 million tons in 2004. In 2005, shipments from all major exporters increased, except for India, according to data from the Intergovernmental Group on Tea, FAO. Information from the same source indicates that Kenya continued to be the main exporter in 2005, exceeding the exports of Sri Lanka for two consecutive years.
  • In Argentina, tea is the most exported infusion, considering tea, yerba mate and coffee. In 2006 tea had a share of 70.5% in volume and of 65.9% in total sales dollars. At the same time, our country sells around 90% of its tea production to foreign markets, where the United States and Chile stand out as predominant destinations.


Exports of Argentine Tea in volume and FOB value
Years 2000 – 2006

..Source: Food Industry Administration based on data from Customs
..and AFIP.


  • Domestic tea exports have increased 44% in volume, starting with 50,072 tons in 2000 to reach 71,987 tons in 2006. These transactions have also generated a 32% income increase in the same period. Total tea sales abroad amounted to 30.5 million dollars in 2000 and to 50.7 million dollars in 2006.
  • Argentine tea exports include only an average of 1% of green tea, and the rest corresponds to black tea that is mainly sold in containers of more than 3 kilograms.


  • World imports of tea increased 1.9% in 2005 compared to the previous year, reaching 1.39 million tons. This trend reflected import increases in the Russian Federation and in Pakistan, Libya and Sudan. United States imports, main market for Argentine tea, also registered an increase.
  • In Argentina, tea imports are notably lower than exports, in volume as well as in dollars, which indicates our country is a net exporter. Average volume for the period 2000 – 2006 reached 326.3 tons and the volume acquired from foreign markets in the last year under analysis amounted only to 319 tons.
  • Average values paid in the seven years being analyzed amounted to 1.03 million U$S CIF.
  • The most outstanding origins of Argentine tea imports are: Brazil, China, Kenya, Sri Lanka and United Kingdom. In 2006 Brazil contributed 37% of the total volume of tea purchased by Argentina, followed by China (29.4%), Sri Lanka (19.2%), Chile (5%) and United Kingdom (4.1%). However, the British nation concentrated the biggest part of our country’s total imports in dollars: 24.1%. Sri Lanka received 19.9% and Brazil 16.9%.





  • The yerba mate is a highly consumed product in Argentina, as its consumption constitutes a deep-rooted tradition, and is therefore present in most Argentine homes. It is cultivated for business purposes in only three countries: Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, in coincidence with its natural dissemination area. Our country is the biggest world producer and exporter.
  • According to information provided by the Yerba Mate National Institute (INYM in Spanish), the production of green leaves –raw material from the yerba mate- has registered an 7% reduction from 2005 to 2006 (738,707.7 and 684,656.2 tons respectively).
  • On the other hand, the amount of yerba mate ready for distribution in the local market has also shown a retraction trend. In 2005, production reached 238,881.5 tons, while in 2006 this figure decreased to 225,044.9 tons (-5.8%).


  • By virtue of the high consumption registered in the domestic market, Argentine exports of yerba mate represent only 10 to 15% of the country’s total production.
  • However, the average income generated by sales to foreign markets, in the period 2000 – 2006, amounted to 21.5 million dollars FOB.


Exports of Argentine yerva mate in volume and value
Years 2000 – 2006

..Source: Food Industry Administration based on data from DGA and AFIP.


  • In the period 2003 - 2004 there was a retraction in sold volumes. However, in 2005 and 2006 there was a 3% recovery (28,575 and 29,408 tons respectively).
  • Relative to total income, as a result of that business flow, in the period 2003 – 2006 there was an increase of 31%.
  • Siria was positioned as the main destination market in the years under analysis, except in 2001, when Brazil was the principal foreign market for the Argentine yerba mate. Since 2002 Siria’s volume share increased from 42% to almost 59%.
  • Chile maintains its position as second export market, and has increased its share in a sustained way since 2003. From 2005 to 2006 sales to this country increased measured in volume as well as in dollars. Brazil also showed a share increase in 2006 compared to 2005.


Average export price in US$ FOB/Ton
Years 2000 – 2006

..Source: Food Industry Administration based on data from DGA and AFIP.


  • In the period 2000 – 2003 average yerba mate export prices followed a negative trend. Later on, this trend was reverted. The average export price increased 74% in the period 2003 - 2006, from 474 U$S FOB/ton to 825 U$S FOB/ton. It must be pointed out that in this period, the average export price paid by Syria increased 51% (555.1 U$S FOB/ton in 2003 and 840.9 U$S FOB/ton in 2006).


  • Yerba mate imports are insignificant compared to export volumes. In 2000 imports amounted to 858 tons, this representing the biggest volume in the period under analysis (2000 – 2006). Amounts continued to decrease until 2003 (62 tons), but in the three following years there were increases of 83, 120 and 280 tons.
  • Amounts paid in the period 2000 – 2006 reached 320,134 U$S CIF in the average. This sum was exceeded in 2006 when 432,631 U$S CIF were paid in total for the 280 tons of yerba mate imported.
  • Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay have been the origin of Argentine imports, but small amounts were also purchased from Syria and Germany. Brazil has been the most important supplier of yerba mate, followed by Uruguay, except in 2003 when the latter was the only supplier of the total volume imported.


The infusion industry sector as a whole presents favorable prospects.
In the first place, the high dynamism shown by tea production, consumption and business flow at world level offers a favorable scenario to strengthen the role of our country as tea producer and exporter.

On the other hand, the Argentine yerba mate sector is striving to consolidate its world leadership as producer and exporter of this product so traditional in Argentina, through the promotion of its consumption, at national and international level, and the search for a firm insertion in new markets.


...Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Alimentos

...Subsecretaría de Política Agropecuaria y Alimentos
...Dirección Nacional de Alimentos

   Ministerio de Economía y Producción - Buenos Aires, Republica Argentina