Sri Lanka’s tea industry recovered in 2017 with the crop up 5% to 307 million kilos from a year ago and export earnings rising to Rs233 million (US$1.5 billion) with better production expected this year if good weather prevails, Minister of Plantation Industries Naveen Dissanayake said. Sri Lanka’s highest tea exports, of $1.63 billion were in 2014 when the crop was better.
Prices at the Colombo tea auctions remained the highest among major exporters, with the national average reaching $4.07 a kilo from $3.19 in 2016, compared with $2.82 a kilo in Mombasa, Kenya, the island’s main competitor, and much higher than in India.
“We hope to increase production and prices in 2018, maintaining the purest quality,” Dissanayake told a news conference.
Total exports of 289 million kilos in 2017 were marginally higher than the year before but the average FOB (free on board) price rose 26% to Rs807.44 ($5.2) a kilo with the Colombo auction average up almost 32% to Rs620.17 a kilo. “The recovery is good considering the problems we faced,” Dissanayake said, referring to bad weather and difficulties in major markets, especially in the Middle East.
“In 2017 production went up 5%. If it goes up another 5% in 2018 then maybe we can expect 320 million kilos this year, if there are no drastic weather changes.”