KENYA – Kenyan tea exports to leading tea buyer, Pakistan, recorded a37 percent decline during the first quarter of the year compared with a similar period last year following low prices witnessed at the auction.

According to a market report by the Tea Directorate, volumes exported to Pakistan fell from US$150 million (Sh15bn) in the first three months of last year to US$100 million (Sh10bn) in the period under review.

The decline in earnings were attributed to depressed prices in the first quarter, which averaged at US$2.2 (Sh220) per kilo compared with US$2.9 (Sh290) in the corresponding period last year.

Data from the regulator indicates that Pakistani imports stood at 49.3 million kilogrammes of the commodity in the first quarter from the 54 million kilos exported to the country in the previous year.

Total sales volume Pakistan accounted for 33 percent of the total volume exported during the period.

However, the Mombasa Tea Auction recorded an increase in number countries importing the beverage rising to 43 countries up from 32 countries in the corresponding period of last year.

A total of 137 million kilogrammes was exported through the auction during the period with most key markets recording higher volumes compared to the previous year.

Major key destinations for the beverage included Egypt (28.3 million Kg), UK (13.8 million Kg), UAE (6.9 million Kg), Sudan (4.8 million Kg) and Russia (4.4 million Kg).

Yemen imports hit 3.5 million Kg, Saudi Arabia at 2.1 million Kg while Switzerland and Afghanistan 1.8 million Kg and 2.5 million Kg respectively, reports Business Daily.

Comparably, Pakistan imported a total of 184 million kilogrammes of tea from all over the world with 84 per cent of the total volumes, 155 million kilos, coming from Kenya – during the previous financial year.

Kenya is also trying to open up new markets and cut overreliance on the traditional markets that account for over 80% of the total produce in its bid to cement its position as the leading tea exporter in Africa.

According to the directorate, significant higher tea imports from Kenya were also recorded among the emerging markets of Iran, Nigeria, Ireland, Turkey, China, Malaysia, South Africa, Canada, Oman, Chad and Uzbekistan.