The first sale in March began on a very hesitant note consequent to the strengthening of the Sri Lankan Rupee in an unexpected manner. At the commencement of the sale, large volumes of tea were unsold with bids realised being significantly below the percentage appreciation of the Sri Lankan Rupee.
As the sale progressed some degree of stability was reached although rupee prices, on average,
recorded a decline of Rs. 200-300 per kg and on the higher selling grades, perhaps up to Rs.
300-400 per kg vis-à-vis the previous week's levels. The total unsold volumes would perhaps be
in the region of approximately 15%-20%.
No doubt concerning trading conditions for all sectors in the value chain. Ex-Estate offerings totalled 0.72 M/Kgs up from the 0.65 M/Kgs of the previous week. Good demand though prices took a dip following the strengthening of the Sri Lankan Rupee.
Better Western BOP/BOPF's were Rs. 200-300 per kg easier on average, whilst the other BOP/BOPF's declined by approximately Rs. 200 per kg. Nuwara Eliyas' were limited in offer, which too followed a similar trend. Uda Pussellawas' were generally firm, whilst the Uva BOP/BOPF's declined up to Rs. 100 per kg and Rs. 200 per kg respectively.
High and Medium CTC teas - BP1's were generally firm though irregular following quality, whilst the PF1's on average eased up to Rs. 100-150 per kg. Low Grown PF1's were substantially lower by Rs. 300 per kg, particularly for teas in the higher price bracket.
Better teas continued to be supported by shipper to the UK, Japan and South Africa, whilst shippers to the CIS bid on a wide cross-section of teas on offer. Low Growns comprised of 2.4 M/Kgs. Leafy/Semi Leafy and Small Leaf categories met with lower demand and prices declined further as the sale progressed.
In the Leafy and Semi Leafy catalogues, few select OP1's were firm, whilst the balance declined sharply. BOP1's, in general, were easier. However, teas at the bottom sold around last levels. Well-made OP/OPA's together with Below Best varieties were substantially lower. Teas at the bottom too were easier to a lesser extent. PEK/PEK1's, in general, declined substantially.
In the Tippy catalogues, well-made FBOP/FF1's together with the Below Best varieties were substantially lower and at times were unsellable due to a lack of sufficient bids. Teas at the bottom too were easier to a lesser extent.
In the Premium catalogue, a selection of high priced invoices were sold on special inquiry and were firm on last, whilst all others declined sharply and were mostly unsellable due to insufficient bids.