Sri Lanka mulls extending private tea sale curbs

May 07, 2009 (LBO) – Restrictions on private sales of low grown teas outside the main auctions in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, are likely to be extended this year, an official said. The curb are placed in the belief that they help prop up prices, though a ‘private’ sale takes away an equal amount of supply and demand from the auction.

Colombo tea auction prices usually come under pressure during times of bigger crops at this time of year.

H D Hemaratna, director-general of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, said the restrictions on private sales outside the auction helped revive tea prices when they crashed last year.

The regulator imposed the ban on private sales of low grown teas, which account for over 60 percent of the island’s production, late last year when large quantities of tea went unsold at the auctions.

The tea market, which had shot to record highs in mid-2008 at the height of the global commodities bubble, collapsed towards the end of the year, throwing the entire industry into a crisis.

The restrictions on private sales were supposed to be temporary until the crisis passed but were extended till June this year and could be extended even further, Hemar