Tea prices have been at the top of the news this week with the Calcutta Telegraph reporting of a new record price at the Calcutta Auction of INR556 (USD 8.30) per kilogram for a btach of CTC tea from the Halmari Estate near Dilbrurgarh, Assam (which I visited some years ago). The tea will be exported to Europe and it would be interesting to know where the final retail price would be set.
In contrast, the India CFO of Mcleod Russel is quoted in an interview on Moneycontrol as stating the average Assam tea price last year was INR 170 (USD 2.53) per kg but expected an increase up to INR 190 (USD 2.83) in the coming year. Further research showed me that McLeaod Russel is, in fact, the world's largest tea producing company and includes some relatively large operations here in Vietnam which I was previously unaware of.
On the other side of the coin I came across a report on a site going by the unlikely name of NPR Goats and Soda about how female tea pickers in Kerala who have been organising in order to obtain better working conditions than their current USD 3 per day. At the same time the labour dispute in Kenya (which I highlighted in previous weeks) continues to rumble on with the KTN News site warning that employees are threatening to bring in mechanisation if the tea pickers continue to insist on getting the full pay increases awarded by the courts.
An interesting side story to the Kenya dispute is that one of the companies at the centre of the wrangle (James Finlay) is said by Herald Scotland to have enjoyed a big increase in profitability in the last financial year.
Elsewhere in the world the growth of Tea Tourism is providing a welcome boost to the income of Chinese tea farmers. CCTV America reports that the average tea farmer in China's Guizhou province earns USD1,500 per year from tea and has turned to tourism to supplement this.
Occasionally the news throws up a nice story about an individual tea shop and this week The Daily Wildcat tells us about a shop in Tuscon, Arizona offering educational tea tasting sessions. I am a firm supporter of such events and maybe Jojo will wish he hadn't left his home after all!
And finally this week the Daily Telegraph reviews "one of the world's greatest collection of tea pots and tea accessories" owned by the founder of Newby Teas. The 1700 piece collection is worth an estimated GBP160 million and apparently proves that Nelson didn't add milk to his tea.