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Saturday, 12 September 2020

Tea prices improve amidst low global supplies

 A tea plantation./FILE

Tea prices at the Mombasa Auction have improved by about 30 percent in a span of two months since July 2020, gaining favourably from the worst prices last recorded since 2007.

The average price per kilo of made tea for KTDA-managed factories rose from $1.87(Sh203) to $2.49(Sh270) during the last nine tea sales at the auction, between July 1 and September 1 2020.

The lows of $1.87(Sh203) were last seen in 2007 when the tea market performed poorly due to the global economic downturn that hit most of the tea importing countries.

The impact then turned into cascading losses that affected tea markets.

“Since June 2020, the auction has received decreasing volumes of tea that have resulted in improved tea prices for Kenya and non-Kenya teas,” said John Bett, KTDA General Manager Sales and Marketing.

In the subsequent months of July and August, the factories produced 17million kgs, respectively, a reduction of quantities by 34 percent.

As a result of continuous drop in tea volumes at the auction, tea prices have risen gradually.

This is expected to sustain especially if the forecasted depressed rainfall holds.

The decline in tea volumes was also witnessed by other tea producers in the country and the region.

The tea directorate reported that tea production for July declined significantly to 35.55 million kgs from 46.37 million kgs in June and 47 million kgs recorded in May.

The significant reduction in tea output in the country was driven by cold weather, the reduced rainfall levels and tea pruning that is predominantly done in July and August.

The increase in average tea prices at the Mombasa auction has also been contributed by the low tea production especially in India, Assam region, where the effects of Covid-19 pandemic and the rampant floods have devastated tea operations.

As a result, most tea growing regions in India missed out on the flush plucking season. This saw India’s cumulative tea production drop by 26 percent from 473 million kgs to 348 million kgs in six months to June 2020 compared to a similar period in 2019.

This decline in tea production in India has been CTC average prices rise from $2.72(Sh295) in April to $3.56(Sh386) in July 2020 in Northern India.

“Going forward, the market is expected to remain buoyant driven by the interplay of local and global demand and supply dynamics and the speed of recovery from Covid-19 pandemic in key consuming markets,” Bett said.

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