Traders at the Mombasa tea auction are side-lining expensive Kenyan tea because of the reserve price of $2.43 (Sh283) per kilogramme set by the government, leading to huge withdrawals of smallholder produce at the auction.
Tea buyers have opted for cheaper beverages from Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi that do not have a minimum price, giving a wide berth to Kenya Development Agency (KTDA) teas on account of being expensive.
In the latest trading, the volume of tea withdrawn from the tea auction hit Sh1.1 billion as the price of the beverage plummeted further to $2.23 (Sh260) from $2.25 (Sh262) in the previous sale.
“The demand is now shifting towards cheaper teas that is why non-Kenyan teas and plantations are now selling well when compared with KTDA teas,” Peter Kimanga, a director with Global Teas.
Mr Kimanga said the current depressed demand for tea and depreciation of the currency in leading buyers such as Pakistan and Sudan has forced buyers to go for cheaper teas in the wake of low inquiries from global buyers.
The minimum price is only applicable to tea from KTDA. All teas from regional countries are traded at the Mombasa auction by the East African Tea Traders Association before they are shipped out of the country for overseas markets.
Currently, demand for tea in global markets has declined due to the onset of summer in major buying countries, which has cut down beverage consumption, forcing traders to go for cheaper teas.
Decline in Prices at the Tea Auction
Prices have remained low at the tea auction in the last six weeks, a move that is set to continue hurting incomes from one of Kenya’s leading foreign exchange-earners.
Tea has in the last 13 weeks sold below the minimum value of $2.43 that the government set last year to safeguard farmers’ earnings after a series of poor performances that had dropped below production cost.
Export earnings from tea grew by Sh16 billion or 13.3 per cent last year, helped by higher volumes and a weaker shilling.
The Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) put the earnings at Sh136 billion last year when compared with the Sh120 billion that was recorded in 2020.