Tea exports to Pakistan, Kenya’s largest buyer of the commodity, fell 38 per cent in August compared to the previous month due to jitters about last month’s General Election.
Data by the Tea Directorate show that Pakistani traders only bought 8.07 million kg of Kenyan tea in August, down from 13.1 million kg in July when they amassed huge stocks due to uncertainty over the polls.
“Pakistan did a lot of purchase in July due to anxiety on elections. They are yet to clear stocks,” Samuel Ogola, head of the Tea Directorate said.
The low tea purchases are likely to drag into next month when Kenya is scheduled to hold repeat presidential elections on October 26, the official said.
Mr Ogola said that the country might still witness cautious buying at the auction ahead of the election. The total export volume for August recorded a decline of 24 per cent to register 28 million kg compared with 36.9 million kg registered in a corresponding period last year. During the month, Kenya tea was shipped to 38 export destinations compared with 39 for the same period in 2016.
Ten export destinations accounted for 88 per cent of the volume. The UK, Nigeria, Poland and India markets recorded higher tea imports from Kenya during the month.
Kenya has been relying on the top markets for the sale of most of its tea but the directorate is now scouting for new markets given that most of these traditional buyers are witnessing political instability.
The directorate has been banking on emerging markets and an increase in local consumption to improve the sale of the beverage and boost revenues for farmers.
Amongst the emerging markets that recorded significantly higher tea imports from Kenya in August included Indonesia, Japan, Ukraine, Belgium, Sri-Lanka, China and Hong Kong.
Local tea consumption for the month stood at 3.08 million Kg against 2.40 million Kg for the corresponding period of 2016 while cumulative tea consumption for the eight months period up to August 2017 stood at 24.33 million Kg compared with 18.72 million Kg for the same period last year.