UAE topples UK as third largest buyer of Kenyan tea

Women pick tea leaves at a farm. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) overtook the United Kingdom (UK) as the third-largest buyer of Kenyan tea in February, underling the Covid-related upheavals of key target markets.

The Tea Directorate data shows that buyers in the UAE snapped up 4.22 million kilogrammes of Kenyan tea in February, toppling the UK as the traditional third-largest buyer of Kenya’s produce.

Consumers in the UK bought 4.2 million kilos of Kenyan tea in February — relegating it to the fourth-largest buyer — amid stringent restrictions imposed by its government to curb the spread of coronavirus.

During the month, Kenya exported 48 million kilos of tea, up from 40 million during a similar period in 2020, with Pakistani taking up the bulk of 16.8 million kilos.

Other key export destinations in February were Egypt (9.99 million kilogrammes), Sudan (1.96 million kilos), Yemen (1.47 million kilos), Russia (1.29 million kilos), Kazakhstan (0.9 million kilos), Netherlands (0.73 million kilos) and Poland with 0.66 million kilogrammes.

“Significantly higher tea imports from Kenya also recorded in non-traditional markets such as China, Japan, India, Switzerland, Ireland, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Qatar and Canada,” the directorate said.

Exports were also made to seasonal markets such as Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan, Iraq, Vietnam, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Brazil, South Korea and the Czech Republic.

Kenya has been relying on the top traditional markets to sell most of its tea but the directorate is now scouting for new buyers to boost sales.

The directorate is banking on emerging markets and an increase in local consumption to improve the sale of the beverage and boost farmers’ earnings.

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