The global tea market has been badly affected by the coronavirus crisis with labour lockdowns causing a decrease in the supply. Millions of people are in lockdown and so the demand of the widely popular immunity-boosting drink is on a high.
India, China, Kenya, Vietnam and Sri Lanka are the five counties who are responsible for 82% of global tea exports. But the nationwide lockdown restricting the movement has delayed some shipments about a month, triggering a spike in prices. This is the main lef-peaking season,but the lockdown, which has been imposed to contain the pandemic, has disrupted that also.
A few of pickers combined with colder-than-normal temperatures last month may trim output in top producer China this year, while production in No.2 grower India and Sri Lanka have also been impacted by labourer and weather issues.
Prabhat Bezboruah, the Chairman of India’s Tea Board said the lockdown had forced plantations to suspend plucking during the opening harvest which may drop the country’s production by 120 million kgs or 9% in 2020. The International Tea Committee (ITC) estimates India’s 2020 exports will fall 7%. In March, exports from India 34% and nearly halved from Sri Lanka, Commerce Ministry and tea brokers claimed.
World’s top exporter Kenya has observed minimal interruption to harvest since March and it may see domestic output rise by 15% this year, said the ITC. Orimi trade, Russia’s leading tea manufacturer said in a statement, “Shipments from India have been delayed by an average of one month, and we have also experienced delays in the supply of tea from other countries, in particular Sri Lanka,”
Jayampathy Molligoda, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tea Board said, the tea production of Sri Lanka had decreased nearly a quarter due to an earlier drought, and the virus is now affecting the exports. Russia is also a leading tea importer and the prices for raw tea that Russia imports has jumped as much as 30% from pre-lockdown levels.