Monday, 9 February 2004  
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Short quality season affects tea trade

by Steve A. Morrell

The western quality season was short lived. Cold dry winds experienced mid December through Mid January had its usual impact on quality manufacture, but the wide hygrometer differences, a characteristic of that time of year did not last long.

Quality therefore was affected. This was the general comment by Brokers who responded to the reason for the drop in prices at the 2nd 3rd February sale. Our sources in the Western slopes too confirmed this regressive slide, but were confident prices would not be that bad to cause panic in trading circles.

There were 6.1 million kilos on offer sold in a total of 9318 lots.

The better made Teas fetched better prices, but those estates that dropped their leaf standards suffered consequences of the price drop. Nevertheless the gross per kilo over all at 160.63 was an increase comparing 2003 to date which was 154.11.

These are usual trends at this time of year and not to be classified as something sensational, Brokers said. The Thai Pongol break too had its repercussions on maintenance of plucking rounds which further aggravated leaf standards.

Nevertheless these phenomena would ease with normalisation of routine However single garden marks maintained their reputation. notably Kew and Somerset on the western slopes recording 266 and 310 per kilo.

Kenilworth at the Ginigathena pass too fared well in the mid grown price range selling a bopf at 210 and Dotel Oya recording 310 per kilo.

A feature of the sale was the depressed ex estate offerings at .5 million kilos. This was disappointing they said. Impact of low growns continued their level of importance although there was special enquiry for select leafy verities.

The two factories Hingalgoda, and Kalubowityawa continued to dominate the low grown leafy grade verities, which gave small holders the added boost of improved income levels.

Crop figures of major producing Countries have shown increases for the period ending Nov/Dec 2003. Particularly North India which had significant gains of 30.40 million kilos. Bangladesh, Kenya, Malawi, and south India too gained in crop,

Brokers were somewhat reticent in predicting price trends and were cautious in making any statements.

They adopted a 'Wait and see' attitude.

Announcement of the dissolution of Parliament (last Saturday,) usually does not have impact on the plantation sector, and workers are content to await instructions from their leaders.

This time too change in attitude or reaction to out-come would be low key. At least in the short term this could be expected. This would mean that production would not be hampered and the Trade would continue to function as normal.

Unless an extraordinary situation of violence in the Plantations erupts,(Subject to historical practice, this would seem remote), fears of interruptions do not come into the equation. They said.

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