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Auctions to help tea industry cut losses

Calcutta, Dec. 6: The domestic tea industry is expected to cut losses in the current financial year following a faster movement of tea at auctions and a projected price upsurge in January and February due to low auction offerings.

Sensing that there will be lower offerings at the auctions in the next two months, leading packet tea manufacturers like Hindustan Lever, Tata Tea, Goodricke, Girnar and Godfrey Philips have increased their offtake from the auctions. This will enable them to offer the right grades of tea to consumers in March, when there will hardly be any tea at the auctions.

“Even though production is up 31 million kg till October, there had been quicker tea sales according to the new Tea Marketing Control Order, 2003,” said a senior official of Calcutta Tea Traders Association.

According to the new order, the tea that comes to an auction should be catalogued in 19 to 25 days. Cataloguing, in tea parlance, means that a particular tea should come up for sale and should get a place in a broker’s book.

Earlier, it took almost 49 to 50 days for cataloguing tea. “It was regulated so that there was a supply of tea throughout the year,” said the official.

In October 2003, 1.63 lakh tea packages have been offered in sale 42 compared with 1.16 lakh packages offered in October 2002. The official said another 15-20 million kg of tea will be offered between mid-November and December.

Producers are getting payment from buyers within two weeks of cataloguing the tea.

In January to mid-November, 103 million kg of tea have been sold at the Calcutta auction centre against 81 million kg in the corresponding period of the previous year.

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