Sri Lanka tea exports recover in February

March 22, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tea exports grew six percent in February while higher prices also pushed earnings higher, commodities broker Asia Siyaka said.

Sri Lanka exported 26.5 million kilograms of tea in February (24.9 mn kg in 2005) but was unable to fully recover losses in January when production plummeted as estates recovered from the fallout of a strike in December and unfavourable weather.

In January only 21.4 million kilograms of tea was shipped, and the total for the first two months was 47.9 million, slightly lower than the 49.8 million kilos recorded in 2006.

But the tight supply conditions helped boost prices.

“Because of the crop shortfall people who wanted Pure Ceylon [tea] had to fight for whatever there was,” Asia Siyaka Director Lal Alawattegama told LBO.

“Prices are still good but they are slowly adjusting, with the Western quality season drawing to a close.”

The average export value of a kilogram of tea rose to 313 rupees from 275, bringing in 15 billion rupees (139 million dollars) in the first two months compared to 13.7 billion rupees (134 million dollars) in the first two months of 2007.

Russia and CIS countries dominated buying 12.3 million kilos, followed by Iran (6.3 mn kg), UAE (5.4 mn kg) and Syria (4.8 mn kg). Alawattegama says March production seems to be better with pockets of good production being reported in some areas, though the weather was somewhat dry overall.