Tea stockpiles in country are reported to have depleted over the past six months on the back of slow and selective imports from world markets in the wake of price surge in the international markets, industry sources told Business Recorder on Wednesday.
Fearing hoarding and price hike in the local market, traders and blenders said that at present, Pakistan had a stock sufficient for just six weeks against normal stores of between 12 and 15 weeks. Sources said that production in major tea producing countries, including Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, decreased because of adverse weather conditions.
Traders said that over the past few months, prices of superior quality varieties of tea spiked because of adverse weather in African countries.
Sources said importers were avoiding placing import orders because of the commodity's high auction rates, adding that tea stocks had depleted because of a decline in buying during the past four to six months. "The rupee-dollar parity is a major issue which forced traders to buy less despite a significant cut in the import duty," an importer said.
He insisted that the import volume of black tea had declined because of the devaluation of Pakistan currency against US dollar. According to data compiled by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), tea imports decreased by 6.76 percent during the first four months of the current year against figures for the same period last year.
Tea imports during July-October 2012 were recorded at $109.567 million against imports of $117.507 million during the same period last year. Sources said that the import of low quality tea surged because of soaring prices of quality tea, particularly the Kenyan brands. Sources said that around 40,000 tons of low quality tea had been imported from various countries, dominated by Indian varieties, over the past eight months.