Prices fell particularly in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, UAE and Australia. And, gained by about four per cent in Russia and other CIS countries, at Rs 159.98 a kilo. Overall prices rose for 16 per cent of the total export and went down for the remaining 84 per cent (140 mn kg).
The export market was expected to pick up well this year, owing to crop shortage in Kenya, India’s closest competitor in its key markets.
There has also been a fall in orthodox tea prices in the global market by five per cent this year. A N Singh, managing director at the Goodricke Group, said one reason could be increased competition between orthodox tea producers. Depending on the season, export of the orthodox variant is 20-35 per cent of international sales.
Developed tea markets — UK, Germany, Russia, China, USA, Canada, UAE, Egypt, Iran — are moving towards either ready-to-drink beverages or orthodox tea. This is limiting the uptake of the traditional black and crush, tear, curl (CTC) leaves. Micro and small scale blenders of orthodox tea, 15 per cent of the export market, have been cutting down on uptake of this variant and substituting with CTC. Although the blend is changed as a result, this doesn’t change the brewed flavour and colour of the tea.
Sugato Dutta, a director at export firm Subodh Brothers, told this publication that one of his clients, which used to mix 15 per cent CTC with orthodox leaves, had asked him to ship a blend comprising a lower percentage of orthodox leaves and higher of CTC, to keep the price same.
On the other hand, after a sharp decline of around 10 per cent in CTC prices last year, prices have rebounded in the segment this year, helping cushion the fall in orthodox prices.