Tea exports to major markets in the year to October dropped 15 per cent compared with the same period last year with all the top buyers except Pakistan registering significant decrease.
Statistics from the Tea Directorate indicate the exports fell to 351 million kilogrammes (Kg) this year from 441.9 Kg between January and October last year.
The September report by the directorate shows the total exported to the UK, Egypt and UAE dropped 12 per cent, 35 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.
Egypt is the second largest buyer of the Kenyan beverage followed by UK at position three. Pakistan has been the top buyer for years.
“The total export volume for the period January-September 2017 was lower at 351.5 million Kg compared with 414.9 million Kg recorded the same period of last year,” says the directorate in the report.
In the period under review, Kenyan tea was shipped to 42 export destinations compared with 35 countries for the comparable period of 2016. Pakistan remained the leading export destination for the commodity having taken up 130 million Kg.
The 10 export destinations, most of which are traditional markets for Kenyan tea, accounted for 89 per cent of the total export volume.
Kenya has been relying on the top markets to sell most of its tea, but the directorate is now scouting for new markets.
It 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 nine months period up to October 2017 improved to 27.5 million Kg against 21.75 million Kg for the corresponding period of 2016.
Kenya has been trying to promote local consumption of the commodity, but the growth has been painfully slow. Last year, local consumption rose marginally from 29.3 million Kg to 29.7 million Kg accounting for Sh15 billion.