Better prospects for Darjeeling Tea this year

KOLKATA: The export market shines bright for Darjeeling tea this year. Harrods of Knightsbridge has picked up 20% more while Twinings has placed enquiries with tea companies and Japanese buyers like Mitsui too have send feelers to the tea producers. Strong demand from overseas buyers has pushed up the prices at auctions by Rs 10-15 per kg.

Sanjay Bansal, chairman of Ambootia Group , the second-largest Darjeeling tea company, told ET: "The demand from overseas buyers has increased quite significantly this year. Harrods has already come to Darjeeling gardens and has picked up teas according to their own choice. Japanese buyers have also sent feelers and they will be coming in the autumn. There is a huge demand among the buyers for organic teas. Those gardens that produce organic teas are fetching good prices in the global market. In general, prices of tea are ruling firm."

Last year, Darjeeling tea had suffered a production loss due to drought-like situation in the hills. Production has increased this year due to favourable weather condition.

"Last year, production got affected due to a drought-like situation. We lost the premium first and second flush teas, which fetch maximum revenues. But revenue-wise this year will be better than last year," said Ashok Lohia , chairman of Chamong Tee , the largest Darjeeling tea producer.

Last year, Darjeeling had produced 8 million kg of tea, which was the lowest in last decade. Darjeeling produces nearly 10 million kg tea annually. Of this, 40% earns the maximum revenues as they are largely exported. The rest 60% is rain teas, which do not fetch good prices in the global market.

"Now, there has been incessant rains in the hills, which is a matter of concern to the producers. The industry is hopeful of achieving at least 9 million kg output this year," said Kausik Basu , secretary of Darjeeling Tea Association .

While exports have improved over the last three months, the domestic demand for Darjeeling tea is also increasing.

"Though the first and second flush teas are high-priced and are largely exported, there has been an interest among domestic consumers for these varieties. We are seeing a shift among the consumers from average tea to quality tea," said a city-based retailer.

Economic Times