Kazakhstan imports $62.8 million in tea in six months

ASTANA – Kazakhstan imported 17,200 tonnes of tea worth $62.8 million in the first six months of the year. The world’s largest tea importers include Kenya, India, Russia, Sri Lanka and China.

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Sales rose 15 percent despite a 16-percent increase in coffee and tea prices and an average price of 2,900 tenge (US$8.53) per kilogram for the latter.

Tea plays an important part in Kazakh culture, as no celebrations or family gatherings are held without drinking the beverage. Kazakhstan is also among the world’s top ten tea drinking nations at 1.6 kilograms per capita a year.

Kostanai city in northern Kazakhstan saw a 27-percent increase in a year despite the country’s highest price of 3,300 tenge (US$9.71) per kilogram. In Almaty, tea lovers spent the same amount, although prices rose only 0.6 percent, while Astana witnessed a 17.8-percent increase at an estimated 3,100 tenge (US$9.12) per kilogram.

Local stores offer many varieties, but black tea remains the favourite, accounting for nearly 90 percent of tea imports.

Although Kazakhstan is a tea producer, imports still outweigh the nation’s own production, representing 70 percent of the country’s demand for tea and coffee.

In the first six months, the nation produced 10,080 tonnes of tea, a 1.8-percent increase compared to 2016. Declining volumes in Almaty, the major tea producing region accounting for 83 percent of total the country’s total, underpin the current stagnation in the industry.