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Tea set to get costlier

Rich brew

Calcutta, April 3: Tea prices are likely to go up as the industry feels it has no other option to counter the expected hike in wages in the negotiations with the unions that will take place after the polls.

Inclement weather, which has played a spoilsport in the first flush period, may lead to a supply crunch that is expected to translate into higher prices, too.

Speaking on the sidelines of a session on sustainability, Arun N. Singh, chairman of the Indian Tea Association said, “Prices has to go up by at least 20 per cent. I am expecting that by June, everyone may take a price increase. At the market level, prices of first flush has been up Rs 10-15 a kg for CTC.”

Production in March is expected to be lower by around 30 per cent because of inadequate rainfall and drought-like conditions. The first flush contributes close to 10-15 per cent to the overall domestic output.

So far, the best Assam CTC has been sold at Rs 230 per kg, which is higher by Rs 15-20 per kg, in auctions and private sales. Medium Assam fetched a price of Rs 180, same as last year, while plainer Assam sold between Rs 130 and Rs 150. The best Dooars traded Rs 20 higher at Rs 210-230. Its medium range sold at Rs 160-180. Bought leaf sold Rs 10-15 higher at Rs 140-160.

“The orthodox market has not opened yet. It will open from the second flush. But even the end season orthodox is selling good, which indicates that it will be a good year for orthodox,” he said.

Sustainability drive

The Tea Board is set to give shape to the norms for its sustainability initiative — Trustea — by June. A draft case was prepared last year, on the basis of which a pilot sustainability initiative was undertaken in four estates.

The four-year programme has set a target to cover 500 million kg from over 600 factories and is expected to impact livelihoods of 500,000 tea plantation workers and 40,000 small holders by 2017.

 
 
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