The Colombo tea auction saw average sales hit a record high in September, registering Rs. 1,599.40 (US$4.46) per kilo, beating the previous best of Rs. 21 USD) recorded a month ago in August.
Compared to the September 2021 average of Rs.587.66, September 2022 shows a significant increase of Rs. 1,011.83 year-on-year (YoY), also gaining 1.5 in US dollars.
“It should be noted that in US dollars, the September 2022 average of US$4.46 registers an increase of US$0.25 from the August 2022 average of US$4.21,” said Forbes and Walker Research in their latest auction update.
September also saw all elevations record the highest sales averages on record.
High-Grown tea recorded the highest average of Rs. 1,448.14, which is an increase of Rs. 59.88 from August 2022. Compared to the September 2021 average of Rs. 557.39 , the average sales of September 2022 recorded a significant increase of Rs. 890.76.
For Medium-Grown, the average sales reached Rs. 1,336.96 in September, up Rs. 100.82 from that of August. The increase was Rs. 832.33 from September 2021.
Low-Grown Teas also recorded their highest average of Rs. 1,706.02 in September surpassing the previous best of Rs. 1,616.24 recorded in August 2022. This was a sharp increase of 1,084 .85 rupees compared to a year ago.
The cumulative analysis showed that all the elevations registered significant gains during the period of January to September 2022 compared to the corresponding period in 2021, both in rupees and in US dollars.
However, the chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) recently urged the country’s tea growers not to get carried away by the recent spike in auction prices as the country’s tea industry is under serious threat from campaigns. well organized from India and Kenya.
“We are happy that (tea) prices are high, but our harvest is low, so the availability of different teas that are suitable for more affordable countries is decreasing. As it is a small quantity, Sri Lankan exporters may pay higher purchase prices. So we are happy with the higher prices, but the importers are not happy with the higher prices,” SLTB chairman Niraj De Mel said.
He warned planters that importers could source identical teas US$2-3 cheaper in Sri Lanka from India and Kenya.
Having identified a market opportunity to compete with Ceylon tea exports in lucrative Middle Eastern countries, De Mel noted that Kenya and India have launched a campaign to capture these vital markets, which could potentially trigger a crisis in the Ceylon tea industry.