Sri Lanka tea imports fall

Jan 05, 2010 (LBO) – Tea imports for re-export by Sri Lanka, a major exporter, fell sharply last year as opposition by producers to importing teas remained strong, Tea Board and industry officials said. Tea Board officials said pressure by the producer sector on the regulator led to more stringent checks on imported teas which discouraged servicing of multi origin blends. Re-export volumes of tea fell by 50 percent to 7.3 million kilos in the nine months to September 2009, Tea Board officials said.

They said it was unusual for imported tea volumes to have fallen so sharply during the first three quarters of 2009 as the drop in local production should normally have encouraged more imports to bridge at least part of the gap.

Sri Lanka’s black tea output was reduced last year because drought earlier in the year affected the crop and a ˜go-slow’ by union labour on estates in September disrupted production.

Teas are imported under tight controls for blending with Ceylon teas and re-export.

Only a few specialty teas are allowed to be imported.

Restrictions on tea imports are in place as producers fear Colombo auction prices would drop if more teas are allowed to be imported.