‘SA consumers becoming better educated about rooibos health benefits’

‘SA consumers becoming better educated about rooibos health benefits’
The commercial production of rooibos in South Africa amounts to about 14 000t annually and generates an income for over 5 000 people in the country.
Photo: Rooibos Route

South Africa’s consumers, as well as the rooibos value chain, are now far more knowledgeable about the health benefits of this uniquely South African plant and the variety of products that can be manufactured from it than five years ago.

This was according to a representative of the South African Rooibos Council (SARC), Marthane Swart, speaking to Farmer’s Weekly as South Africa celebrated the fourth annual National Rooibos Day on Thursday.

“It’s great that National Rooibos Day is happening on an annual basis to draw people’s attention to rooibos and the health benefits of its products. We have already seen rooibos consumers becoming better educated every year about these benefits and taking advantage of them.”

She pointed out that rooibos was not only being drunk as a hot tea, but was increasingly being consumed as iced tea, both in South Africa and on international markets, such as Japan, where a rooibos tea culture was rapidly developing. The rooibos plant was also being used in health and beauty products.

Sanet Sander who, along with Marietjie Smit, co-founded South Africa’s Rooibos Route (SARC), started the National Rooibos Day initiative, said that the aim of the day was for the country’s rooibos value chain and its customers to celebrate and enjoy rooibos tea and other rooibos products “wherever they are and with whomever they are”.

“We invite people to share this enjoyment on various social media platforms. This will help other people see that rooibos is even being used in products such as beer and food. It also helps to celebrate our rooibos farmers and farmworkers. Rooibos is unique to South Africa and we should celebrate this fact,” she said.

Statistics provided by the SARC indicated that rooibos production provided employment and income to over 5 000 people in South Africa. On average South Africa harvested approximately 14 000t of rooibos annually, of which over half was consumed locally.

“The increasing global demand for rooibos has pushed exports up to more than 6 000t per annum.

“If both the export and local volumes are sold and enjoyed as pure rooibos, this would be equal to 5,6 billion cups of tea. Rooibos is exported to more than 30 countries across the globe. Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, the UK and the US are the biggest importers of rooibos,” the SARC added.

Sander asked South Africans to share their #MyRooibosMoment, #Rooibosday and #Rooibosdag on social media. The tag on Facebook is @Rooibosday and on Instagram it is @Rooibosdag.