India's Jan-Aug tea output falls 19% on floods, COVID-19 outbreak

MUMBAI, Oct 1 (Reuters) - India’s tea production in the first eight months of 2020 fell 19% from a year ago to 669 million kilograms (kg) as heavy floods and coronavirus-led movement restrictions curbed output in the main producing region, the state-run Tea Board said.

Tea growing areas, notably Assam - which accounts for more than half the country’s production - suffered flooding in May, June and July.

In August, India produced 159.73 million kilograms of tea, down 7.3% from a year ago due to lower production in the north-eastern state of Assam, the Tea Board said in a statement.

Domestic prices have risen to a record high as a result, which may limit exports by the world’s second-biggest producer, potentially enabling Kenya and Sri Lanka to ship more, multiple trade sources said.

In August, average auction prices jumped to a record of 260.63 rupees ($3.56) per kg, up 75% from a year ago, according to the Tea Board.

India’s tea exports in the first seven months of 2020 fell 18% from a year ago to 115.27 million kilograms, it said.

The country exports CTC (crush-tear-curl) grade mainly to Egypt, Pakistan and the United Kingdom, with the orthodox variety shipped to Iraq, Iran and Russia. ($1 = 73.1550 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)