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Commodities

Producers earn top dollar from specialty tea exports

Tea pickers. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Tea pickers. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Specialty tea from the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) earned the company as high as Sh29,973 ($291) a kilogramme at international markets in the last financial year, making it the agency’s most profitable offering.

According to Tea Directorate, for green tea KTDA’s Kangaita factory grossed the top price, Tumoi Teas was second at Sh15,450 ($150). Transnational subsidiary, James Finlay, was placed at number three with Sh1,545 ($15) dollars a kilo.

Kenya is diversifying from the traditional black CTC (crush, tear, curl) tea that it is known for to specialty varieties that fetch a premium. Specialty tea is mainly exported to China, Europe and America.

“If you look at the prices that the specialty tea fetched at the auction last year, there is no doubt that that is the way to go,” said Edward Mudibo, managing director at the East African Tea Traders Association (EATTA). At the last auction on Tuesday, black tea fetched an average of Sh300 a kilo. The prices have been dropping in the last few auctions.

Kenya’s specialty teas include the purple variety, now at 10 million kilogrammes from seven factories; and white teas.

The directorate has licensed a number of factories and cut down on the stringent requirement for setting up a specialty plant.

For instance, it has reduced the acreage for a factory from 250 hectares to 20.

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