Tea exports to major markets down 13pc in the last year

A tea plantation worker in Kenya. File photo | nmg
A tea plantation worker in Kenya. File photo | nmg 

Tea exports to Kenya’s major markets dropped 13 per cent last year compared with 2016 due to the drought witnessed in quarter one of 2017.

Statistics from Tea Directorate indicate the volume of tea export dropped to 414.7 million kilos last year from 480.3 million kilos in 2016.

Cumulative production for the year 2017 decreased seven per cent to stand at 439.85 million kilos against 473 million kilos recorded in 2016.

“The total export volume for the period January-December 2017 was lower at 414.7 million kilogrammes compared with 480.3 million kilos recorded the same period of last year in what is attributed to hot weather in quarter one,” says the directorate in the report.

Five top buyers of Kenyan tea, with the exception of Pakistan, registered a dip in volumes bought. The report shows total volume of tea exported to UK dropped 18 per cent. Egypt and UAE bought 23 per cent per cent less each. Egypt is the second largest buyer of the Kenyan beverage after Pakistan followed by UK at position three.

In the period under review, Kenya tea was shipped to 39 export destinations, the same as 2016. Pakistan was the leading export destination with nine million kilos, representing 34 per cent of the total exports.

The 10 export destinations, most of which are traditional markets for Kenyan tea, accounted for 93 per cent of the exports.

Kenya has been relying on the top markets but the directorate is now scouting for new markets to boost sales.

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

Local tea consumption for the period under review dropped 3.4 to 27.5 million kilos against 21.75 million for the corresponding period of 2016.

Kenya has been promoting local consumption but the growth has been slow.

Among the countries targeted is Russia, which recently had a tiff with Sri Lanka over tea.