Markets & Finance

Tea exports to Sudan up 27pc on lifting of shelf-life cut order

tea

A woman picks tea at Gathehu village in Nyeri county on October 31, 2015. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI

Tea exports to Sudan increased by 27 per cent last year following Khartoum’s suspension of a cut in official shelf-life for the Kenyan beverage from three to one-and-a-half years.

Tea directorate says the volumes grew to 27 million kilogrammes from 19 million kilos in 2015, after an unilateral agreement to suspend the directive by the Sudanese government last March.

Kenyan traders have also received another major boost as Khartoum gave the country a further six months after the previous waiver expired in December last year.

The move implies that Kenya’s tea will continue accessing their market without restrictions as a technical research team works to determine the actual shelf-life of the beverage, a condition issued by Sudan.

The directive saw sales to Khartoum drop by 30 per cent in 2015, affecting the exports to one of Kenya’s major markets. 

Head of Tea Directorate Samuel Ogola said the decision by Khartoum to delay the implementation of the directive played a significant role in boosting the volumes.

“There was a significant growth in terms of volumes and revenue that we got from Sudan and this is attributed to the suspension of the technical barrier on shelf-life of our tea by the Sudanese government,” said Mr Ogola.

READ: Sudan reverses sell-by date order for Kenya tea

The increase in volumes placed Sudan at position six amongst the countries that imported most tea from Kenya last year, from position seven the previous year with tea worth Sh5.1 billion.

The changes on the shelf-life of tea had been made by Sudan Standards and Metrology Organisation (SSMO) in 2014.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) is working jointly with the SSMO and other government agencies to carry out a scientific research on the actual shelf-life of tea.

In 2016, a total of 480.3 million kilos were exported compared with 443.4 million kilos exported in 2015.

Kenya is the leading exporter of the commodity in the world, selling 95 per cent of its tea in the global market and the balance locally.

The country is trying to open up new markets and expand the existing ones such as China, which has the potential to buy more of the local tea.

In the last financial year, small-scale tea holders attached to Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) earned a record high of Sh84 billion. The agency tea recorded an average of Sh300 per kilo.