General demand at tea auctions this week


By Forbes and Walker 

Tea Brokers


This week’s auction volumes totalled 7.9 million kgs, marginally below last week’s quantity of 8.1 million kgs. There was fair general demand mostly at easier rates following quality.


Ex-estate offerings were similar to last and totalled 1.2 million kgs. Overall quality remained uninteresting, with a greater weight of offerings comprising of a fair average quality product. Encouragingly, the limited availability of reasonably good liquoring teas were absorbed at firm to dearer rates, whilst the plainer, and to a greater extent, the poor leaf teas, being discounted quite significantly. Consequently, the parity between a good quality tea, vis-à-vis their poorer counterparts, is a significant Rs. 100 per kg, and at times even more. The bottom of the market, which settled at around a Rs. 450 per kg level this week, compares poorly with the corresponding levels in 2017, and more so in USD terms.  


Low Growns maintained a similar volume to last week of 3.46M/kgs in the Leafy/ Tippy catalogues. In the Leafy catalogue, better BOP1/OP1’s maintained. Cleaner below best too maintained, whilst all others declined. PEK/PEK1’s, except for the well-made varieties, all others were easier. A selection of well-made OP/OPA’s maintained. Others declined following quality. In the Tippy catalogue, select best FBOP’s and well-made teas in the below best were firm to dearer whilst others were discounted. Few select best FF1’s and cleaner teas in the below best were firm to dearer, whilst all others declined. In the Premium catalogue, very tippy teas, particularly the leafy tippy varieties appreciated in value. Best and below best gained, whilst others declined following quality. There was good demand from shippers to Turkey, CIS, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.


Daily FT. 14th June 2018.


Tea auction this week

By Forbes and Walker Tea Brokers


The 20th sale of the year, which concluded yesterday, had a total of 7.93M/kg on offer. 


There was fair demand mostly at easier rates. Ex-Estate offerings were fairly large and totalled 1.5M/kg. Better Western BOPs declined by Rs. 20-30 per kg and more for last week’s high priced teas. The corresponding BOPF had on offer a few select invoices which gained substantially whilst the majority declined by Rs. 20-40 per kg and more following quality. 


In the below best category, a selection of BOPs gained Rs. 20-40 per kg following special inquiry whilst the corresponding BOPF declined up to Rs. 50 per kg. Plainer BOPs were irregular whilst corresponding BOPF - clean leaf teas up to Rs. 50 per kg easier, others Rs. 20-30 per kg easier. 


Nuwara Eliyas too were mostly lower following quality. Uva/Udapussellawa BOP/BOPF declined by Rs. 20-50 per kg. CTC teas were also lower by Rs. 20 per kg and more. Liquoring leafy teas continued to be neglected.


A salient feature of the sale was the strong demand for the limited availability of BOPs which are now commanding a premium of Rs. 30-50 per kg over their corresponding BOPF in most instances. It would also be relevant to note the bottom of the market for BOP/BOPF, which has settled between Rs. 500 and Rs. 520 per kg, is in keeping with the corresponding levels of last year. Notwithstanding, approximately a 5% depreciation of the SLR.


Low Growns totalled 3.1M/kgs in the Leafy/ Tippy catalogues. There was fair demand at lower levels. In the Leafy catalogue, a limited selection of well-made BOP1/OP1s maintained whilst others were irregular and lower. OP/OPAs too were generally lower by Rs. 5-10 per kg and more, particularly where quality was not maintained. Select best PEK/PEK1s were firm whilst others were barely steady. 


In the Tippy catalogue too, a select range of well-made FBOP/FF1s maintained while others were mostly lower. At the lower end too prices were generally lower to last by Rs. 10-15 per kg and more for the teas that did not maintain leaf style. 


In the Premium catalogue, a select range of well-made teas maintained whilst others were mostly lower to last. There was good demand from shippers to CIS, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya and Dubai.


Daily Ft, 25th May 2018.


Monthly tea auction averages down Rs. 25 in March

By Forbes and Walker Tea Brokers


March Auction average totalled Rs. 613.75 vis-à-vis Rs. 638.76 of March 2017, showing a decrease of Rs. 25.01. When analysing the respective elevations, High Grown average for March 2018 of Rs. 602.27 too shows a decrease of Rs. 32.57 vis-à-vis Rs. 634.84 of March 2017, whilst Mediums averaging Rs. 566.91 show a decrease of Rs. 35.49 vis-à-vis Rs. 602.40 of March 2017. Low Growns too averaging Rs. 628.98 have shown a decrease of Rs. 19.52 vis-à-vis Rs. 648.50 of March 2017. These averages also show a decrease in USD terms compared to the corresponding month of 2017.


When analysing the cumulative Auction average for the period January-March 2018 of Rs. 629.77 shows a gain of Rs. 21.74 vis-à-vis Rs. 608.03 of January-March 2017. High Growns for the period of January-March 2018 of Rs. 628.04 show a gain of Rs. 8.42 vis-à-vis Rs. 619.62 of January-March 2017, whilst Mediums averaging Rs. 571.86 have shown a gain of Rs. 7.58 vis-à-vis Rs. 564.28 of January-March 2017. Meanwhile Low Growns averaging Rs. 643.90 for January-March 2018 too have shown a gain of Rs. 29.08 vis-à-vis Rs. 614.82 of January-March 2017.


It is relevant to note that January-March 2018 prices show a decrease in USD terms compared to the price levels of January-March 2017 with the exception of the Low Grown average where 2018 prices are higher than 2017. It is also noteworthy that these levels are significantly higher both in LKR/USD terms when compared to 2016 levels.


Daily Ft, 05th April 2018


Sierra and New Hopewell achieve record prices at tea auctions

Sierra CTC entered the record books along with New Hopewell Tea Factory at the weekly tea auctions held on 27 March.


Sierra CTC established an all-time record price of Rs. 780 per kg for a BP1 grade in the CTC low grown elevational category. This invoice was purchased by Andaradeniya Tea Exports Ltd.


Sierra CTC Tea Factory is situated in Wellandura, Kahawatta, at an elevation of 187 metres above sea level and has been in the forefront of manufacturing high quality CTC teas since its inception in 2010. 


This factory is owned and managed by M.C. Perera, who has been involved in the plantation sector for over 30 years.


New Hopewell Tea Factory under the selling mark Chandrika Estate achieved an all-time record price of Rs. 750 per kg for BOP1A grade at this week’s tea auctions. This line of tea was purchased by Ranfer Teas Ltd.


New Hopewell Tea Factory is situated in Balangoda, Sabaragamuwa Province at an elevation of 540 metres above sea level. It is an HACCP and ISO 22000:2005 certified facility with an annual production capacity of over two million kilos of made tea.


This factory comes under the purview of Sesame Senhora Synergies, which is headed by Managing Director Ranjan Walpola and managed by Senior Manager Kanchana Fernanado.


The above record-breaking teas were marketed by Forbes & Walker Tea Brokers Ltd.


Daily FT, 30th April 2018.

Tea industry unites to call for lifting of glyphosate ban or viable alternative in face of mounting

Tea industry stakeholders including Sri Lanka Tea Board (SLTB) Chairman Rohan Pethiyagoda have called on policy makers to urgently re-evaluate the arbitrary ban imposed on glyphosate-based weedicides in light of overwhelming scientific consensus that the substance is not harmful to human health, most recently confirmed by Risk Assessment for Glyphosate conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 2017.

SLTB Chairman Rohan Pethiyagoda said: “The Sri Lankan plantation sector, and the tea sector in particular, are being forced to endure losses of up to Rs. 10-20 billion each year that the glyphosate ban remains in place, and it is mainly the smallholder plantations which are being deprived of these profits as a result of this extremely damaging policy. Worse still, there has not been a single piece of scientific or factual evidence produced in Sri Lanka to justify the ban. 


“This is an unsustainable position and it is clear that it will cause irreparable harm to our industry if immediate measures are not taken to lift the glyphosate ban. As custodians of our economy, it is imperative that policy-makers base their decisions on facts and evidence, and the reality of the current situation is that glyphosate has been banned for political reasons, without any consideration of the clear and undeniable evidence that despite being widely used for over a generation, there has been no proven links to any ill effects to human health.”


EPA’s human health review evaluated dietary, residential/non-occupational, aggregate, and occupational exposures. Additionally, the Agency performed an in-depth review of the glyphosate cancer database, including data from epidemiological, animal carcinogenicity, and genotoxicity studies and found no conclusive links to any ill effects. 


Pethiyagoda further noted that the ban was also eroding Sri Lanka’s ability to compete in international markets, given that other tea-exporting nations were not hindered by the inability to use glyphosate, while Sri Lanka has been left to grapple with increased costs of production and regulatory issues in traditional export destinations, triggered by the use of alternative weedicides introduced in the absence of glyphosate.  


The SLTB’s position on the glyphosate ban is mirrored by the vast majority of industry stakeholders, including the Ministry of Plantation Industries, the Tea Research Institute, Employee Trade Unions, and the Planters’ Association of Ceylon.


Expressing support for the stand taken by Pethiyagoda, Planters’ Association of Ceylon (PA) Chairman Sunil Poholiyadde warned that an economic calamity of national proportions is rapidly approaching if policy-makers continue to give a deaf ear to the ground realities, and demanded that policy-makers take immediate steps to remove the ban or provide a feasible and cost-effective alternative to glyphosate. 


“Sri Lanka remains the only country in the world to have banned glyphosate, and for the past 4 years, there has still not been a single example of a medical condition that has arisen in the plantation sector that any proponent of the ban can show as justification. Furthermore, there has not been a single country anywhere in the world that has banned imports containing glyphosate residues to date. Yet as a result of this ban, all producers – including smallholders are being forced to use alternative weedicides to control the weeds that are eating away at our crop,” Poholiyadde noted.


The PA and various stakeholder groups have previously called upon the Tea Research Institute to use its mandate to intervene and provide guidance to producers on a suitable alternative weedicide on an urgent basis – however, to date, there have been no such alternatives proposed. While RPCs are still held to a strict standard with regard to weedicide application, the ban has also resulted in smallholders experimenting with alternative weedicides, increasing the likelihood of an eventual ban the breaching of maximum residue limit standards in export markets. 


“Such alternative chemicals have already triggered warnings in export destinations like Japan, where the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) allowed is significantly stricter for the most commonly used alternative, MCPA. In comparison, those same standards are much less strict for glyphosate residues. This lower standard for glyphosate is based on the fact that it has been internationally accepted as having no detrimental effects to human health. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has not even specified glyphosate MRL for its own agricultural goods and food imports, in complete contradiction to the supposed rationale of the ban,” Poholiyadde noted. 


The US EPA’s findings are among the latest in a substantial body of scientific evidence – including a 2017 health survey conducted by the US National Institute Health which shows that the glyphosate “is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans and poses no other meaningful risks to human health when the product is used according to the pesticide label.” The agency’s scientific findings are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by a number of other countries as well as the 2017 National Institute of Health Agricultural Health Survey.


“Since it is clear that this ban has nothing to do with the human health, either for those producing or consuming Sri Lankan tea, then we demand that policy makers explain why they insist on taking such an illogical position, failing which, an immediate removal of the ban be gazetted,” Poholiyadde said.


“Every day that the State continues its irrational inaction on this matter, costs our nation approximately Rs. 55 million in crop losses. The cost of this will have to be paid eventually, and its impact will be felt far outside just the regional plantation companies. If we can’t use glyphosate, they must clearly specify an alternative weedicide that is acceptable to all export destinations. We simply cannot afford to lose international market share due to short-sighted policy decisions,” Poholiyadde warned. 


Daily FT, 15th February 2018.

India’s 2017 tea exports up 8% to 241 m kg

REUTERS: India’s tea exports in 2017 jumped 8.2% from a year ago to 240.68 million kg due to good demand from Egypt, Iran and China, the state-run Tea Board said in a statement.


India, the world’s second-biggest tea producer, exports CTC (crush-tear-curl) grade mainly to Egypt, Pakistan and the UK, and the orthodox variety to Iraq, Iran and Russia.


The country’s production edged up just a percent in 2017 to 1278.9 million kg, the Board said in a separate statement.


Daily FT, 15th February 2018.

Bangladesh tea prices dip on poor leaf quality

REUTERS: Tea prices fell sharply at Bangladesh’s weekly auction on Tuesday, dragged down by inferior quality leaf, despite a lower volume on offer.


Bangladeshi tea fetched an average price of 188.44 taka ($ 2.80) per kg at the auction, compared with a revised price of 200.01 taka in the previous sale, National Brokers said.


Prices dropped sharply as buyers sought big discounts for poor-quality tea, of which there was a large supply, despite a drop in overall supplies, a senior official at National Brokers said.


About 25.5% of the 2.27 million kg offered at the sole auction centre in Chittagong was unsold, compared with 38% unsold of the 2.7 million kg offered at the previous auction.


Bangladesh’s tea production jumped nearly 27% in 2016 to a record 85 million kg, helped by favourable weather, making imports a choice rather than a necessity.


The South Asian country was the world’s fifth-largest tea exporter in the 1990s but is now a net importer because of a surge in domestic consumption in line with economic growth.


Daily FT, 15th February 2018

Bangladesh tea prices fall amid supply glut

Dhaka (Reuters): Tea prices fell at Bangladesh’s weekly auction amid a higher supply than the previous sale, although strong demand for quality leaf capped a steeper price decline.


Bangladeshi tea fetched an average price of 236.68 taka ($ 2.80) per kg at the auction held on Tuesday, compared with a revised price of 238.47 taka at the previous sale, National Brokers said.


There was muted demand overall but good demand for quality leaf, which helped limit a steep drop in prices when supplies were higher than last week, a senior official at National Brokers said.


Demand for tea in Bangladesh usually rises in winter.

Around 21% of the 2.75 million kg offered at the sole auction centre in Chittagong remained unsold. In the previous auction, 14% of the 2.59 million kg on offer was unsold.


Bangladesh’s tea production jumped nearly 27% last year to a record 85 million kg, helped by favourable weather conditions and making imports a choice not a necessity.


The South Asian country was the world’s fifth-largest tea exporter in the 1990s but is now a net importer due to a surge in domestic consumption in line with economic growth.


Daily FT, 26th January 2018.

Dilmah replaces tea with wilderness

Reconnecting fragmented forests to protect the


diversity of life 

Dilmah Founder, Merrill J. Fernando removed the first tea plant at Dilmah’s Endana tea garden in a symbolic gesture, initiating the reforestation of the fragmented Delwala Kanda and Walankanda Forest Reserves. The estimated three-kilometre long nature corridor linking these two sites reaffirms the Founder’s commitment towards sustainability and diversity of life, as Dilmah Tea continues into the 30th year of its existence. 


“As a company dedicated towards making business a matter of human service, we understand the sensitivities and the ecological aspects of the plantations that we have inherited through a 150-year-old colonial agro-economic system. Thus, we resolve to minimise the impact of monoculture and do no compromise on the importance of biodiversity not only in the Endana Estate but at all the Dilmah tea plantations,” said MJF Tea CEO Dilhan C. Fernando, on the 30th anniversary of Dilmah. 


According to the National Conservation Review of Sri Lanka prepared in 1997, the Delwala Kanda and Walankanda region are among 13 other fragmented forest territories that are in close proximity to the highly endemic Sinharaja rainforests which is recognised as a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Biodiversity surveys conducted previously in the region determined that the Endana estate harbours 180 floral species of which 37 are endemic. The region around the Delwala forest reserve was found to exhibit a similar species richness with a total 177 plant species of which 49 were found to be endemic with 5 among these listed as endangered, 26 as vulnerable and 21 as nationally threatened according to the IUCN Red List of 2012.


Delwala Kanda and Walankanda are fragmented into small forest patches by nearly 100 years of tea plantation, first introduced into this region in 1915 by British colonialists. Commenting on Dilmah Conservation’s efforts at conserving the biodiversity of these low rainforest areas dominated by the Sinharaja Forest Cluster, Professor Nimal Gunatilleke stated, “It is a very important step in the direction of strengthening genetic diversity of the flora and fauna found in these fragmented forest terrains, l through the exchange of genetic material which in turn will ensure the long-term survival of the species.” 


The Endana Estate with a total land cover of 625 hectares is among the largest tea plantation under the Kahawatta Plantations PLC owned by Dilmah. Under the proposed initiative, the tea lands at Endana will be reconverted into forests to bridge the Walankanda and Delwala Kanda Forest Reserve, thus allowing an increased mobility amongst the native plants and animals inhabiting these territories.


Professor Nimal Gunatilleke and Prof. Savithri Gunatilleke, who are providing their scientific expertise on the nature corridor project, explained that the reforestation will commence by establishing forest successions in a method known as relay floristics. Thus during the initial phase fast-growing species which can grow in infertile soil like Trema orientalis (gandumba), Macaranga peltata (kanda), Alstonia macrophylla (hawarinuga) must be planted to provide adequate shade and enrich the soil nutrients since the chances of survival for canopy endemic species in these regions is very poor. Following this light loving forest species found at the forest edge must be grown before canopy endemic species native to the lowland rainforests can be grown. 


The nature corridor linking Walankanda and Delwala Kanda will be the second biological corridor that will be created by Dilmah Conservation at Endana with the support of the Forest Department of Sri Lanka. Previously, Dilmah Conservation had been instrumental in establishing a biological corridor linking Pita Kanda and Walankanda regions where local communities helped in planting over 2,000 indigenous forest trees which are found in the wet zone of Sri Lanka. Both ventures by Dilmah Conservation are intended towards securing natural habitats and enhancing the biodiversity and conservation value of the tea estates which display unique ecosystems that change gradually in relation to the changing elevations.




Daily FT, 27th January 2018.



Russia loving Ceylon Tea again, wants renewed Sri Lanka trade

The Russian Federation revealed that its historic longing for Ceylon Tea has not wavered and even vowed for bigger trade with Sri Lanka, calling to despatch a strong delegation to the trade meet scheduled in Moscow this year.


“Yes, we imposed a ban on Ceylon Tea, but it was nothing to do with our asbestos but was only about an insect found in a tea package from Sri Lanka,” said an upbeat Ambassador of the Russian Federation Yury Materiy. Ambassador Materiy was meeting the Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka Rishad Bathiudeen at his office in Colombo on 9 January. 


“If we connected Ceylon Tea exports issue with Sri Lankan imports of Russian asbestos as widely speculated, then our tea ban would have to continue even now, isn’t it?” asked Ambassador Materiy. “We are not speaking about asbestos in general but only about Russian Chrysotile which is not harmful. Lots of investigations have been done on it. Russian workers who have been working in the chrysotile industry for the last 30 years are doing fine – not one worker was reported to have had cancer in the last 30 years. There are many workers who handle chrysotile in the mines with bare hands, and they are fine. If you decide to import chrysotile from us, we will be very happy.”


Sri Lanka has been among the leading buyers of asbestos in the world. In 2015, the four leading asbestos importers in the world were India, Indonesia, China and Sri Lanka (buying from all asbestos exporting countries). Sri Lanka absorbed 6% of global asbestos imports in 2015. According to the Department of Commerce, ‘Iron and steel’, ‘wheat’ and ‘asbestos’ have been the three leading imports from Russia to Sri Lanka in recent years. Sri Lanka’s recent asbestos imports from Russia has been at low levels and has shown a declining trend – $ 33.87 million in 2014, $ 27.92 million in 2015 and $ 28.80 million in 2016. From January to August this year, Sri Lanka’s asbestos imports from Russia was only $ 13.57 million.


“We want to strengthen relations with Sri Lanka further. Bilateral trade between both countries is still low and it is time we expand our trade with diversified products. In this light, I am pleased to say that we shall look forward to Sri Lanka delegation’s arrival for Russia-Lanka Intergovernmental Commission meeting in Moscow later this year so that we can start bigger trade. We look forward to stronger bilateral cooperation with Sri Lanka including in our assistance. We in Russia like to support Sri Lanka in development cooperation in sectors of energy and agriculture.”


Sri Lanka’s total trade (both imports and exports) with the Russian Federation which was at $ 435.83 million in 2015 declined to $ 381.71 million in 2016. This year in the January to August period, it reported a total of $ 260.78 million.


Minister Bathiudeen warmly welcomed Ambassador Materiy’s invitation to strengthen trade between the two countries. “Russia and Sri Lanka have long-standing, friendly and cordial relations. I am pleased that Russian Federation has a greater vision of cooperation with Sri Lanka, beyond changes in temporary trade flows. We shall prepare a strong delegation to Moscow this year so that bigger trade can commence, and I shall instruct my officials to start work. Ceylon Tea exports are of high quality. I have been informed that that particular package in question was made of imported packing material and Sri Lankan packing material was not used in it. I believe our Gem and Jewellery export are attractive to Russian market and our exporters are eager to explore this potential. We thank Russian support to our development cooperation as well,” said Minister Bathiudeen.  


In 2015 Russia was the topmost buyer of Ceylon Tea at $ 156.65 million, and the second leading buyer was Turkey. However, in 2016, Russia became the second largest buyer of all types of Ceylon Teas (including green tea made in Sri Lanka) at $ 143 million – the leading buyer in 2016 was Iran, at $ 154.10 million. According to Minister Bathiudeen’s Department of Commerce, nearly 74% of Sri Lanka’s exports to Russia in 2016 was Ceylon Tea at a value of $ 143 million (while total exports to Russia in the same year was $ 182 million). Over the years, total tea exports to Russia have shown a declining trend – $ 240.32 million in 2013, $ 228.27 million in 2014, $ 156.65 million in 2015 and $ 142.55 million in 2016. Ceylon Tea exports to Russia from January to August this year totalled $ 114.18 million (83% of all types of Lankan exports to Russia from January to August 2017). 


Daily FT, 11th January 2018.

2017 tea crop rises for first time in four years

  • Last year tea production up only 5% against 2016 but lowest since 2009
  • Low growns up 7% but lowest since 2011
  • High grown tea crashes to lowest production since 1992

Tea production in 2017 was at 307 Mnkg, up only 5% when compared with the previous year’s drought-affected figure of 292 Mnkg, brokers said yesterday but recovering marginally from the seven year low hit in 2016.   


Production in December fell by 13.5 percent from a year earlier, the board’s data showed


Asia Siyaka Commodities Plc, quoting Tea Board data, said the 2017 figure of 307 Mnkg was the lowest since 2009 when total production crashed to 291 Mnkg. A collapse of the market in Q4 2008 following the global banking crisis and draft in 2009 restricted production.


“2017 crop losses were caused by a combination of circumstances; though the weather pattern did not settle after the previous year’s El-Nino condition. 


Normal agricultural practices were disrupted by the banning of the only cost-effective weedicide in the market and higher cost of fertiliser,” Asia Siyaka added.


“If weather holds, Sri Lanka could reach 320 million kilos (of production) in 2018.”


    Tea output in 2016 dropped 11.1%, in its third straight yearly decline. Tea export volume dropped to a 14-year low in 2016, broker data showed.


Export earnings fell 5.3% to $1.26 billion in 2016 from $1.33 billion in 2015. Sri Lanka recorded its highest earnings of $1.63 billion in 2014. 


Low Grown production of 197.1 Mnkg is up 7% on the low 2016 figure of 183.6 Mnkg. However, it is the first time since 2011 that production has dropped below 200 Mnkg.


The High Grown figure of 64.3 Mnkg is the lowest since 1992 when production crashed to 53.7 Mnkg following a severe drought. The quantity is even lower than the 2016 drought-affected figure of 64.4 Mnkg. Production from this elevation has been in the region of 73-75 Mnkg in the previous five years.


Mediums at 45.5 Mnkg are marginally ahead of the 2016 quantity of 44.5 Mnkg. Over the past five years production of the elevation has been in the region of 49-56 Mnkg.


Daily FT, 17th January 2018.

About F&W

Forbes & Walker was set up in 1881 as a partnership between James Forbes and Chapmen Walker. Although there is no actual record of the date on which it was established the very first cash book, still in the possession of the Finance Director, indicates the brokerages were earned from 1st August 1881. In Sir Thomas Villiers' book “Mercantile Lore” the date of establishment of Forbes & Walker has been put down      Read More...

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