Fickle Weather Gave India Strong Finish

Indian tea growers somehow managed to resist wind, rain, and heat to beat last year’s totals for tea production by 2.5%. Now that December figures have been tallied, tea production was reported at 1,239.15 million kilos (mkg) for the calendar year, exceeding 2015 by 30.5 mkg.

The totals insure India will remain the world’s second-largest tea producer, behind China. Gains will largely be consumed in the domestic market where consumption is growing annually by 3%. This means that tea available for export will continue to be in short supply.

India dominates worldwide production of black tea (China is largely a green tea producer) but Kenya and Sri Lanka consistently win export market share.

Black tea production increased by 77 mkg in 2016, according to Rajesh Gupta, who annually compiles the “Global Tea Digest.” Gupta reports Kenya had an outstanding year, increasing production by 72 million kilos to 471 mkg. Bangladesh also had a good year as tea production increased by 16 mkg to 83 million kilos.

In India, good weather in December brought tea production up 9.5% to 62.74 million kilos, topping a three-year high. Yields fell across much of south India during the year and Darjeeling’s totals continue to decline but Assam, India’s most productive tea-growing region, and the Dooars (up 24 million kilos for the year) showed significant gains.

Production in south India fell from 228 million kilos in 2015 to 212 million kilos last year due to bad weather in the Nilgiri Mountains that resulted in a smaller harvest.

The average price of tea sold at India’s auction centers rose from INRs 124.48 to INRs 134.34 for the year. In the north, which includes Assam, Darjeeling, the Dooars, and Terai growing regions, prices rose from an average INRs 139.79 in 2015 to INRs 143.97 in 2016. In the south, which includes tea grown and sold in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka, prices rose from an average INRs 81.40 in 2015 to 103.73 in 2016.

Source: Tea Board of India, Hindu Business Line