Bartleet Producemarketing weekly tea surveillance
report up to September 10:
Lanka to sign MOU with Tocklai for research
The quantity of tea arriving at the Colombo auction this week
decreased to 6.688 mkg from 6.864 mkg traded in the previous week’s
sale. Meanwhile, the Ex-estate crops showed an increase from 0.699 mkg
to 0.711 mkg.
Market Segments: In the Ex-estate segment a lower market was
witnessed where the seasonal Uvas came down slightly due to the quality
issue resulting in a drop in invoices. The reason given by sources is
that the erratic weather pattern had caused the quality to come down
In the meantime, international markets had changed the retail prices
to the higher side where industry sources are anticipating the market to
be strong with slight volatility due to this. UK was slightly selective,
the continent was active on the Uvas such as Poland whilst Japan showed
active buying for Uvas and Dimbullas.
In the Tippy market segment fair demand was witnessed where buyers
from Iran and Dubai were active whilst CIS showed a moderate buying
In the Leafy grade segment, grades such as OP, OPA and Pekoes showed
a further improvement to last week particularly the Bold Pekoes. Middle
East buyers were active very much for the wiry types but poor types
remained same as last week’s levels.
Research Deal: Sri Lanka, India’s biggest competitor in tea exports,
is set to sign an MOU with Tocklai for a joint research programme on
tea. Tocklai which is the oldest tea research station in the world,
built under the Tea Research Association (TRA) at Jorhat in 1911 will be
facilitating this venture.
A 12 delegation team headed by the industry minister will look at
areas of exchange in information on plant breeding, control of pests,
mechanisation of field and factory operations and patents.
The Sri Lanka Tea Research Institute and top officials from the Tea
Board and the Tea Research Association will also be present during the
signing of the MOU. Meanwhile research parties are to exchange germplasm
and other materials to expand the genetic base of tea and also to
identify resistant traits for tea diseases.
There will also be studies on maximum residue limits with particular
reference to copper and sulphur levels. Control of pests will be another
important area of work in this joint venture.
Fertiliser Hike: With the cost escalation of fertiliser, its usage in
the tea plantations had decreased drastically according to industry
sources. Meanwhile comparing with Central Bank figures, fertiliser usage
for tea in 2003 which was 168,000 metric tons (mts) had come down to
128,000 mts by last year.
Urea, which is the main fertiliser component in the plantation
industry which was Rs. 10,000 a mt in 1995, has gone up by more than ten
fold to Rs. 105,000 at present. It has been stated that if tea prices
come down, the industry would not be able to afford whatever limited
fertiliser that is applied currently in the estates.
Fertiliser being the single most expensive input in the cost of
production has made it a major risk in the agricultural out put. It is
been estimated that without fertiliser, agriculture output in the world
would drop by 50 per cent or more as no soil in the world is able to
continuously supply the full requirement of major nutrients.
The fertiliser shortfall will eventually impact on the physical
properties and chemical components of the tea leaf and this will lead to
lower quality of made tea which will result in Sri Lanka losing the only
competitive advantage it has over other tea economies and industries in
Company News: With an initial investment of Rs. 250 million by the
MJF Group, Rilhena Estate in the Ratnapura district has ventures into a
ready-to-drink tea production facility. It was stated by company sources
that the beverage will be in lime and peach flavours. The project will
get an additional investment of Rs. 50 million and a joint venture in
Russia for bottling the beverage is in the pipeline too.
Meanwhile, the company is looking at having it contract packed in
Australia, where its Dilmah tea has a strong brand presence. Currently
it is already being packed in Kuala Lumpur and trial marketing is on.
The company will commence exporting liquid tea concentrate and
ready-to-drink tea whilst the plans for a bottling plant here have been
postponed. Test marketing in several countries will proceed further to
Plantation Stocks: With reference to the weekly surveillance of the
18 plantation stocks, nine were lower in value whilst eight reported a
gain and one reported static. Maskeliya and Malwatte plantations gained
4 per cent each whilst Kelani Valley plantation reported a gain of 3 per
cent week on week.