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1991 world tea production report.

World production of tea (including green tea) was estimated at 2.5 million kgs for 1991 World exports was estimated at 1. million kgs for 1991 and 1.5 million kgs was retained in producing countries.

These figures would show that 1991 did not produce a world surplus of tea. However, the first seven months of 1992 show a shortfall of about 100,000 metric tons in respect of India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Bangladesh and some of the African countries, notably Kenya.

World production of black tea, excluding China, Russia etc. and restricting ourselves to India etc. (participants in the 1933 Restriction Scheme); it would appear that the latter group of producing/exporting countries is still responsible for about. 30% of world imports. In other words: Europe including the U.K. and America together absorb only about 360,000 metric tons, while the remaining approximately 70% found its way to importing countries in Asia and Africa.

Domestic consumption in producing countries has been growing continuously over the yea and is believed to amount to between 600 and 700 thousand tons. India consumed about. 520,00 metric tons in 1991 and domestic consumption in China is believed to be in the region of 4,000 metric tons. Russia's domestic consumption accounted for about, 100,000 metric tons a year.

The quantities of tea sold at the London auctions are much smaller than a number of years ago, namely about 45,100 metric tons, mainly African tea, supplemented by limited quantities sold at London offshore auctions (cif of fob sales).

Annual average prices for tea (all origins) sold of London auctions were pence per kg in 1991: 104.7 pence, 1990: 115.4 pence, 1989: 125 pence, 1988: 100.8 pence, London sale terms. (offerings London auction 1957 about 150,000 metric tons).

The quantities of tea sold at auctions in producing countries are now larger. In 1991 about 500,000 metric tons in India and more than 400,000 metric tons were sold in auctions in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Chittagong and the African countries. In most producing countries prices at auctions are in local currency.

Rates of exchange of currencies in producing countries vary considerably and this makes it very difficult to compare market values.

Indonesia (Jakarta) is one of the countries that always sold in U.S. dollar terms and it seems likely that other producing countries will switch to sell for export in U.S. dollars also. This will facilitate comparing market values ruling at various selling centers against London auction prices which are in pence per kg of course.

As mentioned before, the quantities of tea sold at the London auctions are mall and this, together with the prices paid, makes it difficult/impossible to compare London values with those in Colombo, Calcutta, Jakarta, etc.

Prices paid for the limited quantities at London auctions do not reflect prices ruling at auctions in producing countries. Nevertheless it is of some interest to note what the monthly quotations are at London auctions for spot tea (pence per kg).

More than ever before, it is difficult to forecast the future trend of market prices because there are more unpredictable matters that now exist; not only as far as supplies are concerned but also the absorption of the still growing quantities of tea which may come available in the Middle East and CIS (RUSSIA). It seems that India is prepared to grant substantial amounts of money to Russia for the purchase of tea.

R. van de Meeberg, a removed expert in tea matters, retired from Holland-based tea importer/exporter Vriesthee some years ago. He was awarded the 1990 Tea & Coffee Trade Journal's Man of the Year award.
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Author:Van de Meeberg, R.
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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