The Tea Association of the USA and its Tea Association of Canada counterpart in September will lead their first delegations to Kolkata to meet India tea producers in hopes of increasing imports.
India reported a record 1.233 billion kilo tea crop during the 2015-16 financial year, the largest production total in 35 years. Exports totaled 232.9 million kgs, according to the Tea Board of India. The largest gains were in Tamil Nadu but West Bengal, Assam and Kangra gardens produced 1,009 million kgs of the total. The country is seeking closer times to North America, now the world’s third largest tea importer.
Ninety-one percent of the tea is crush-tear-curl (CTC) up 23.2 million kilos over the previous year. Exports climbed 17% with orders from Russia (up 22.4%) Iran (up 22%), and Pakistan (up 27.4%) showing the greatest gain. India shipped 48.2 mn kg to Russia last year.
North American buyers are primarily interested in specialty teas “with a special emphasis on Darjeeling tea,” Darjeeling Tea Association Chairman SS Bagaria told the Economic Times.
US buyers pay up to several hundred dollars per kilo to compete with Japanese and German buyers, he said.
“The team will visit the tea estates in Assam and Darjeeling to get a feel of how black tea is produced in India,” said Bagaria.
Tea traders are closely following the Brexit vote in UK this week. Uncertainty about currency fluctuations has halted transactions, according to an article in the Business Standard. Ashok Lohia, one of the largest Darjeeling tea producers, said he would wait for the outcome of Brexit before initiating fresh negotiations with UK buyers.
“Over the years, buyers have renegotiated the price and eventually brought it down even though the cost of production has gone up,” he said.
UK and Germany are the largest buyers of Darjeeling tea.
Sources: Business Standard, Economic Times.