Sri Lanka’s value added tea exports dip, despite record highs in Aug

Oct 05 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has shipped less value added teas for the eight months to August, as a key buyer Libya is yet to place any big orders, a commodity broker said Thursday.

The island main export crop earned 56.48 billion rupees by shipping 218.13 million kilos from Jan-Aug, a growth of 12 percent in terms of volumes, over the corresponding period 2005, Asia Siyaka Commodity Brokers said.

However, the value added component slipped to 38 percent during the period, as Libya a prime importer of packetted teas in 2005 has reduced its take from Sri Lanka this year.

“Libya bought about ten million kilos of tea last year, but they have so far bought only about 2.5 million kilos this year,” Anil Cooke, Senior Vice President Asia Siyaka Commodity Brokers said.

“There is no collapse in the market,” says Cooke.

“The Libyan government buyer has its own purchase cycle and does not always come on the exact date for purchases”.They have placed an order now and it will be ready by November or December,” Cooke said.

Sri Lanka “a big player in the global tea market” shipped a record 32.19 million kilos in August, an 18 percent increase over the same month last year, despite a fall in output.

Asia Siyaka said key markets like Russia, United Arab Emirates, Iran and Turkey bought more teas, which helped pushed export numbers up in August.

The trade last broke export records in August 2000, when the island shipped 28.42 million kilos to overseas buyers.

However, the industry produced only 21.59 million kilos of tea in August as against, 24.5 million kilos in 2005, as the planters were bitten by high fertilizer prices and bad weather.

Cooke says, the time a trader takes from manufacture to sale takes little over a month and this will push exports further down the time line, leading to higher shipments but lower production figures for August 2006.

“At a given moment, there will be about a three month difference (from production to sales).”