Sri Lanka tea prices hit by Middle East turmoil

Apr 08, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lankan tea prices fell at this week’s Colombo auction as turmoil in the Middle East, one of the main importing regions, affected shipments and payments, brokers said. All three elevations, high, medium and low have seen increases of 27.0, 20.45 and 7.28 rupees over last year. Prices of low growns, which account for over half the crop and are much in demand in the Middle East, were particularly affected except for a few better quality types.

However, average prices at the auctions in March were above those of last year’s as well as in 2009, both in rupee and US dollar terms.

The 3.5 million kilos of low grown teas that were on offer this week met with lower demand, brokers John Keells said.

Low grown teas are mainly cultivated by small farmers in the south.

“The turmoil in Libya, Syria and some other parts in the Middle East have disrupted free movement of teas and also the delays in the exporters receiving payment has precipitated the lower prices at the Colombo auctions,” John Keells said in a report.

“Libyan buying at the Colombo auctions is almost non-existent. The Iranian buyers too were rather selective due to their new year break. Som