Kenya’s tea trade soaring: Export earnings witness 31% surge

Kenya's tea trade soaring: Export earnings witness 31% surge Kenya's tea trade soaring: Export earnings witness 31% surge
Kenya's tea trade soaring: Export earnings witness 31% surge.

Kenya’s tea trade is experiencing a remarkable surge, with export earnings witnessing a significant 31% increase.

According to the Tea Board of Kenya, the country’s earnings from tea exports rose to 180.57 billion shillings ($1.24 billion) in 2023, marking the best earnings ever recorded by the tea industry.

Kenya, known as the world’s largest exporter of black tea, saw its total tea production climb to 570.26 million kilograms, up from 535.04 million kilograms the previous year. This boost in production contributed to the substantial increase in export earnings.

Despite a slightly lower export unit price of $2.47 per kilogram compared to $2.62 the previous year, the value of exports still saw a surge. This was due to the depreciation of the local currency against the dollar, with the Kenyan shilling falling from Ksh 117.87 to Ksh 139.85. As a result, the unit price in the local currency rose to Ksh 345.32 from Ksh 306.64.

Pakistan continues to dominate as Kenya’s largest tea buyer, with imports increasing by 15%. The volume of tea imported by Pakistan from Kenya reached 181.98 million kilograms, accounting for 40% of the total export volume. The value of these imports was Ksh 75.22 billion.

Kenya's tea trade soaring: Export earnings witness 31% surge
Kenya’s tea trade soaring: Export earnings witness 31% surge.

Kenya’s tea trade also witnessed increased sales to other markets, including Egypt, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. Egypt imported 65.89 million kilograms of Kenyan tea worth Ksh 22.1 billion, while the United Kingdom imported 46.14 million kilograms valued at Ksh 14.7 billion. The United Arab Emirates imported 28.61 million kilograms of Kenyan tea, with a value of Ksh 10.2 billion.

In 2023, Kenya’s tea exports saw some significant changes in both importers and export destinations. The top importers of Kenya’s tea included Yemen, with imports valued at Ksh 9.1 billion, Russia with imports valued at 5.3 billion, Iran with imports valued at 4.3 billion, and Sudan with imports valued at 2.9 billion. These countries have traditionally been important markets for Kenya’s tea exports.

However, there were some challenges in accessing these markets, specifically for Russia and Sudan. The Russia-Ukraine crisis and internal conflict in Sudan have led to market access challenges for these countries.

In terms of Kenya’s tea export volume, the top ten export destinations accounted for 83.1% of the total export volume. Most of these destinations were traditional markets for Kenya’s tea, with the exception of UAE, Russia, and Sudan. These traditional markets experienced an increase in tea exports compared to the previous year, despite the market access challenges they faced.

Kenya's tea trade soaring: Export earnings witness 31% surge
Kenya’s tea trade soaring: Export earnings witness 31% surge.

The board reported a decrease in tea exports to Russia by 4 percent and Sudan by about 39 percent compared to the previous year. Despite this, the total export volume increased by 16.1 percent, from 450.33 million kilos in 2022 to 522.91 million kilos in 2023. This indicates a growth in the overall demand for Kenya’s tea in other export destinations.

Another notable development in 2023 was the increase in export destinations. Kenya witnessed an increase from 82 to 92 destinations for its tea exports. This suggests that Kenya has successfully expanded its market reach and tapped into new export markets for its tea.

Furthermore, in terms of tea production, Kenya saw a rise of 6.6 percent, with a total production of 570.26 million kilograms in 2023 compared to 535.04 million kilograms in 2022. 

These impressive export figures highlight Kenya’s continued success in the global tea market. The country’s tea industry has not only increased its production but also managed to secure significant sales in key international markets. This bodes well for Kenya’s economy as it generates substantial foreign exchange and supports the livelihoods of many tea farmers and workers.

The rise in export earnings also reflects the growing global demand for Kenyan tea, which is renowned for its exceptional quality and distinct flavors. Kenya’s tea is sought after by tea connoisseurs around the world, and this surge in earnings signifies the continued recognition of its excellence.

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