Sri Lanka losing share of key tea markets

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan tea export prices hit a new high in September 2016 but the island continued to lose market share in key black tea consuming countries, according to data analysed by brokers.

Total exports in the month of September rose 3% to 25.4 million kilos from a year ago, when exports were also low, Asia Siyaka Commodities said.

In August this year the country shipped a similar quantity of 25.1 million kilos. In 2015 export volumes slumped to 21.8 million kilos and 24.6 million kilos during August and September due to currency issues in key importing markets and consequent lower auction prices and sales.

Earnings during September 2016 rose 13% to Rs16.7 billion from a year ago.

“The approximate FOB (Freee On Board) price per kilo in September 2015 was Rs599.50 against Rs658.33 this year,” the brokers said. “This year’s figure is the highest ever in rupees.”

The approximate US dollar value rose to $114.8 million from $106.31 million a year ago. During the three previous years however earnings were $133.62 million, $142.9 millionand $141.1 million.

Tea exports during the January – September 2016 period reached 222.7 million kilos, marginally lower than last year’s 226.1 million kilos for the same period.

The country earned Rs137.5 billion in the nine months to September this year against Rs134.7 billion a year ago.
Russia and other former Soviet Union states continued as the main region for exports buying 40.8 million kilos or 18% of all shipments during the January – September 2016 period, but down 3% of last year’s quantity.

In 2014 Sri Lanka had exported 50.4 million kilos and 52.2 million kilos in 2013.

“This is a loss of 23% over the three previous years,” Asia Siyaka Commodities said.





Tea bag shipments were also down by more than half to this market from 2014.

Exports to Japan were also down this year, falling 8% to 5.8 million kilos from 2015.

“In 2014 Sri Lanka had exported 7.2 million kilos, almost 20% more to this high value market for liquoring High and Mid Grown teas,” the brokers said.

But exports to China, among the top ten markets, continued to grow, with an improved quantity of 5.7 million kilos, up from 5.4 million kilos in 2015.

“This is a 58% improvement on the 2014 figure of 3.6 million kilos,” the brokers said.
(COLOMBO, Oct 28, 2016)

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