Indian tea exports have touched a record high of 240.7 million kg in 2017, surpassing the previous high of 241.3 million kg achieved in 1981, according to provisional figures released by the Tea Board. Five importing countries, including exporters Sri Lanka and China which are India’s rivals in the global arena, helped India reach this export level. Indications are that the figure will rise as returns are still being received by the regulator.
In several countries, including the U.S., Indian teas were sold at prices which were higher than the average export price of $3 per kg, and encouraged by this export buoyancy, a 15% rise to 275 million kg by 2020 now seems achievable.
Exports were higher by 8.2% in volume and by 5.9% in value at Rs. 4,731.7 crore, the regulator said in a statement. In dollars, exports rose 9.3 % to $726.7 million. India exported 222.5 million kg in 2016. The unit price of Indian teas was higher at $3.1 per kg against $2.9 in 2016. The performance might have been better but for the Darjeeling agitation (which resulted in a 70% production loss) and the appreciation of the rupee.
Both tea-growing regions — north and south India — registered higher exports in 2017 over the previous year.
The biggest contributors to this performance was Egypt, which increased imports by 166%, followed by Sri Lanka, whose imports jumped 84.8 % and China to which Indian tea exports rose 50%.
While Iran had imported 28 million kg in the year, Egypt’s imports stood at 10 million kg. China increased its imports to 8.3 million kg buying black tea, to cater to growing demand among the its youth. “The performance could be attributed as much to the several delegations that were mounted by the government during 2017 as also the industry’s servicing of its exports,” said Indian Tea Association Secretary Sujit Patro. “There was adherence to quality [and] packaging as per contracts helped increase exports.”
Azam Monem, chairman, ITA, said the Centre could help by increasing the merchandising export incentive subsidy to 11% from 5% now.