Sri Lanka tea crop lowest in 10 years

Nov 19, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tea production in October 2009 improved from that of the same month last year when the market had crashed but output in the 10-months is the lowest in 10 years, brokers said.

“Conditions that prevailed in that year were far from normal,” the brokers said.

“The fourth quarter of 2008 will be remembered for the crisis in the tea industry when global prices crashed and producers could not afford to tend their fields and harvest their crop.”

A more meaningful comparison would be with the fourth quarter of 2007 with the October output at 26 million kilos being similar to this year’s, the brokers said.

The island’s tea production was affected by severe drought earlier this year and while the crop has recovered industry officials said it is unlikely to touch last year’s levels.

Forbes & Walker Tea Brokers said the total cumulative production for January-October 2009 of 234.7 million kilos is 39.63 million kilos lower than the same 2008 period.

Tea production in other major exporting countries is also lower than last year with the global shortage helping to keep prices strong for much of this year.

Sri Lanka’s production deficit of almost 40 milli