Tea Exporters Association highlights industry resilience against global challenges
Daily FT: The Tea Exporters’ Association’s (TEA) 24th Annual General Meeting (AGM) concluded on a positive note, celebrating the success of the 157-year-old sector, highlighting the need to effectively develop and preserve Sri Lanka’s tea legacy for the generations to come.
Ganesh Deivanayagam was unanimously re-elected for a second term as the TEA Chairman at the AGM held at the Taj Samudra Hotel.
Addressing the AGM, Sri Lanka Tea Board Chairman Niraj De Mel expressed optimism about achieving 265 million kilos of output this year despite the short-term setbacks in the tea crop.
He stressed the importance of maintaining sustainability in light of price fluctuations, urging a strategic focus on value addition to harness the full potential of the country’s diverse agro-climatic growing districts.
The AGM served as a platform to assess the industry’s current state. Statistics from January to July 2023 exhibited promising growth, with tea production reaching 155.82 million kilos, an increase of 2.59 million kilos from the previous year, attributed in part to the reapplication of fertilizer.
Despite global headwinds, Sri Lanka’s tea exports demonstrated remarkable resilience. Cumulative exports for the same period reached 134.99 million kilos, commanding an FOB value of Rs. 1,827.58 per kilo, marking a substantial increase compared to the previous year. Notably, tea export revenue for the first half of 2023 surged to $ 635.5 million, making a notable 10% upswing from the same period in 2022.
FAO Resident Representative Vimlendra Sharan focused on the critical need to safeguard the welfare of tea smallholder farmers and workers along the value chain.
He underscored the growing significance of ethical and sustainable production, aligning with the shifting preferences of consumers towards healthier options.
The event witnessed the gathering of industry luminaries, stakeholders, and esteemed guests, convened to celebrate the remarkable resilience of Sri Lanka’s tea industry in the face of global adversities.
Deivanayagam commended the concerted efforts that led to sustaining tea export revenues, even in the face of hurdles like raw material imports and a high-tax environment.
Underlining Sri Lanka’s distinctive position in the global tea market, Deivanayagam spotlighted the average FOB price for Sri Lankan tea at $ 5.10 per kilo, outstripping both Indian and Kenyan counterparts. This positions Sri Lanka as the world’s second-largest tea revenue earner, trailing only behind China.
He expressed gratitude to the membership, highlighting the industry’s triumph over both domestic and external challenges.
The tea industry is one of the oldest revenue generators of the country that still has a lot of untapped potential. The industry has shown great resilience through the years to many external and internal challenges. However, the industry is yet to reach full potential despite being a key export crop. The many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country have also helped boost Sri Lanka’s tea industry. Once a leading global brand known as Ceylon Tea, local authorities and the tea industry is working towards regaining the fame once held by tea produced in Sri Lanka. Local authorities have presented incentive packages to businesses in the industry while also carrying out promotional campaigns in foreign markets. All these moves have resulted in a growth in Sri Lanka’s tea industry. Given the growing business potential in Sri Lanka’s tea industry, foreign businesses/investors could explore the expanding opportunities in the industry.
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