In January 2018, the amount of black tea offered at the Mombasa tea auction increased by a massive 800,000 kilos compared to the previous month. As a matter of fact, the volume of tea traded in the first week of 2018 was almost 2 million kilos more than a similar period in 2017.
The increase in the amount traded has also had a significant effect on the price of tea traded resulting to more earning for Kenyan farmers. The high production has been attributed to conducive weather conditions in the producing areas as well as an end to industrial unrest that faced the production in 2016 and 2017.
Statistics also from the Auction have shown that there is increased demand for Kenyan tea mainly from Egypt, Pakistan and Iran which has sent shivers among key competitors mainly India whose tea is popular in the UK and US.
The rise of China as a key tea buying country has also increased the demand for Kenyan tea and hence raising the price of the commodity. Kenya has also been mending its trade relationship with European buyers led by UK.
The planned direct flights from Nairobi to the US is also expected to boost the trading of tea to the Americas and be in direct competition with South American teas.
Talking to Economic Times of India, Sujit Patra, the secretary of Indian Tea Association, said India was aware that Kenyan production was going up, which may become a concern for Indian tea exports. However, there is a general understanding that it is early days for exports to pick up.
“It has to be seen how the world market reacts in the coming months. The demand for Indian tea is increasing in Iran, the US and Russia,” she noted.
Unlike India and Sri-Lanka where tea is seasonal, production in this region is all year round. Mombasa has gained a reputation as a centre for some of the best CTC top grades in the world and an international blending floor with teas coming from within and outside Africa for blending.
The Auctions are held weekly, on Mondays and Tuesdays. There is presently, a main grades auction held on Tuesdays and secondary grades auction held on Mondays from 9.00 am.
The variety of quality and progressively increased quantities offered have made Mombasa the second largest black tea auction centre in the world after Colombo in Sri-Lanka.
Presently there are offerings from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Madagascar, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Producers from as far as New Guinea and Indonesia have expressed their wish to join the Association and have their teas offered in the Mombasa auction.
Mombasa is now the only auction centre in the world trading in straight-line teas from more than one country. Quantities have grown by over 300 percent in the last 20 years.