June 27, 2011 / 12:31 PM / 8 years ago

Kenya May tea output down on poor rains, exports up

Workers pick tea leaves at a farm in Limuru, 50km (30 miles) from Nairobi, August 5, 2008. REUTERS/ Antony Njuguna

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya, the world’s biggest exporter of black tea, recorded a 7 percent fall in production in May compared with the same month last year largely due to lower rainfall, the state-run Tea Board of Kenya said on Monday.

Tea output fell to 32.8 million kgs in May, while total export volumes rose 11 percent year on year to 34.4 million kgs after buyers stocked up, the board said.

Tea production between January to May fell 18 percent to 149.5 million kgs, owing to poor rainfall.

“Lower production was largely attributed to depressed and poorly distributed rainfall pattern experienced in most tea growing areas,” said Sicily Kariuki, managing director of the tea board in a statement.

During the month the amount of tea sold through the Mombasa auction fell 23 percent to 25.5 million kgs, while average tea auction prices rose slightly to $2.88 per kg compared with $2.53 in May last year.

Egypt was the leading export destination for Kenyan tea having imported 6.4 million kgs of tea, accounting for 19 percent of exports.

“Notably, most markets imported a relatively higher volume of tea during the month of May compared to the same period of last year in anticipation of less supplies due to the cessation of the “Long Rains Season” (March-May),” said Kariuki.

Kariuki told Reuters in an interview on June 17 that Kenya is likely to match last year’s record-setting earnings from tea exports, thanks to stable prices and a weaker currency against the dollar, even though output is set to fall.

The shilling has depreciated significantly against the dollar this year, losing more than 10 percent and touching a record low of 91.90 on June.

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