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Kenya’s tea exports to traditional markets down 30pc in January

Tea Trade Centre in Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Tea Trade Centre in Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Tea exports to Kenya’s major markets dropped 30 per cent in January compared with the same period last year, highlighting the country’s overreliance on traditional buyers who account for over 88 per cent of the total sales.

Industry performance report from the Tea Directorate shows the volume of tea exported dropped to 31.9 million kilos in January from 45.7 million kilos in the same month last year.

“The total export volume for the month of January 2018 was 31.94 million kilos compared with 45.73 million kilos recorded in the same period of last year,” says the directorate in the report.

Five top buyers of the Kenya’s tea with the exception of Egypt registered a dip in volumes of the beverage that they purchased from the Mombasa auction.

The report shows total volume of tea exported to Pakistan, UK, Russia and UAE dropped 49, 26 and 25 and five per cent respectively.

Egypt, which registered 35 per cent growth in volumes, is the second major buyer of the Kenyan commodity after Pakistan followed by UK at position three.

Tea exports to Pakistan, Kenya’s number one buyer, dropped to 12 million kilogrammes in January this year from 24 million kilos in corresponding period last year following stringent rules that required mandatory testing for aflatoxin on the country’s tea.

In the period under review, Kenya tea was shipped to 39 export destinations, compared to 42 counties in the same period last year.

The 10 export destinations, most of which are traditional markets for Kenyan tea, accounted for 88 per cent of the total volume that was shipped out of the country in January.

Kenya has been relying on the top traditional markets to sell most of its tea 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. 

Significantly higher tea imports from Kenya were recorded amongst the emerging markets of Nigeria, Jordan, Somalia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Chile, Germany, Oman and South Africa.

Kenya has been trying to promote local consumption of the commodity, but the growth has been slow. In January this year, local consumption stood at 2.4 million kilos, down from 2.6 million kilos in the same period last year.