A major deficit in the CTC market with Kenya reporting lower production, following severe drought during the early part of the year, has helped prop up prices in the South. Compared to the national average price of Rs 66.50 a kg last year, the price this year was over Rs 57. In the South, while the average price was Rs 42.61, it went up to over Rs 51 during the year.
An indication of this was the increase in price for the CTC variety in the South where the average price during last year was Rs 41.40 and went up to Rs 52.40. On the contrary the rise in the orthodox variety was comparatively less, to Rs 55.16 from Rs 50.39.
The national production during the coming year was estimated to be at the 925-950 m kg level, though is expected to close at 220 m kg, lower this year by 7 million kg. A matter of concern for the industry was the stagnation of the exports below 200 million kg for the last many years. Industry sources say that till a few decades ago, exports hovered around 220 m kg.
The South, which accounts for just one-fourth of the national production had a share of 50% in exports. Industry sources said that the promotion of teas based on regional origins as done by the United Planters Association of South India (Upasi) over the last two years was a major move that needed to be replicated at the national level. Though it had been repeated over the years that efforts at massive generic promotion would be undertaken, no major moves had been made, they said.