16 June 1998
Pressure forecast on tea prices

WORLD tea prices are expected to fall, with Kenya harvesting a record crop and prospects for the Indian and Sri Lankan crops improving.

Earlier fears that the Sri Lankan and southern Indian plantations would be hit by the El Niño weather phenomenon were not realised.

The Kenyan crop is up 58.33 million kg to 113.30m kg. India was ahead nearly 20m kg at 151m kg by April, this despite losing 7.5m kg because of dry weather.

Industry officials say Indian tea companies will have to be careful about the quality of tea they produce in the final quarter. PK Sen, chairman of J Thomas, the worlds largest tea broker, said there was a huge surplus of inferior-quality tea in the world.

Meanwhile, Indias coffee is unlikely to suffer further damage from bad weather in the 1998-89 season. The forecast of a “normal south-west monsoon” should mean that the crop meets current expectations, according to officials.

The crop is estimated at 230,500 tonnes, compared with an earlier forecast of a record 242,400 tonnes.

  • Financial Times 16/06/98 page 40