Demand for Ceylon tea slid in January as export dollars slumped to a six-year low.
Volume is relative stable, decreasing 1% in January 2016 but the dollar value of exports dropped by 12% in a year-to-year comparison with 2015.
Sri Lanka exported 24.1 million kilos in January, down 1% from a year ago with monthly earnings off by 4% to SLRs 14.3 billion ($99.4 million). In January 2015 the country earned $113 million.
“Earnings at $99.4 million dollars are the lowest since 2010 when a much smaller quantity of 21 million kilos earned the country $90 million,” according to report in Economy Next.
Sri Lanka is attempting to reach a sustainable level of tea agriculture by paying higher wages to workers and producing “clean” tea — at a cost offset by export revenue.
The Tea Research Institute strictly monitors use of pesticides (which are needed in minimal quantities due to the humid climate) leading Ceylon Tea to claim it is the “cleanest tea in the world.”
Right now the tea is selling for $4.12 dollars a kilo, down from an average $4.64 per kilo in 2015 and $5.37 per kilo in 2014. The country accounts for 8% of global production but is the second largest tea exporter in the world following Kenya.