From January to March, the tropical island sold 75.8 million kilos of tea to overseas buyers, which was two-percent lower than 77.4 million kilos of tea shipped during the same period a year earlier, Asia Siyaka Commodities Limited said Thursday.
The island’s green gold, that is marketed under its colonial name “Pure Ceylon Tea” is made with tender leafs and buds.
Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, account for most Sri Lankan tea shipments, followed by the Middle East.
The commodity broker said export revenues remained flat at 40.0 billion rupees during the comparative quarters. In dollar terms, exports were 332.4 million dollars, which was 10.0 percent lower than 369.8 million dollars earned in the 2011 quarter.
“The weaker rupee has played its part as the currency depreciated from around 113.90 rupees to a dollar in January to 128.91 rupees in March,” the brokerage said.
Most of Sri Lankan tea is shipped in bulk form. The report said bulk tea exports edged-up to 31.3 million kilos in 2012 quarter over 30.9 million kilos during the first quarter of 2011.
Sales of packet tea, slipped three-percent to 36.7 million kilos, while tea bag exports fell 13.0 percent to 6.1 million kilos in 2012.
Asia Siyaka said Russia and the CIS countries retained it top slot, with imports of 18.6 million kilos, however, shipments were four-percent lower than the first quarter of 2011.
Direct exports to Iran have gained 8.1 percent to 10.6 million kilos in 2012. Syria followed next, growing 16.0 percent to 6.0 million kilos. Shipments to Iraq rose 16.0 percent to 5.3 million kilos this year.
Sales to Turkey, fell 30.0 percent to 4.2 million kilos in the 2012 quarter. Shipments to Libya, more than doubled to 3.8 million kilos this year.
However, lower export volumes were noted from Japan (2.9 million kilos), the UAE (down 63.0 percent to 2.4 million kilos) and Kuwait (1.1 million kilos).
The brokerage said sales to Kuwait was “disappointing”, as the Arab nation imported 2.1 million kilos in the quarter of 2011 and 3.1 million kilos in the 2010 quarter. The report did not give a reason for the decline.
Botanically known as Camellia sinenis, tea is Sri Lanka’s single largest foreign exchange earner, besides clothing exports, remittances and tourism.