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Tuesday, Apr 25, 2006

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Cooperative factories look to globalise tea market

L.N. Revathy

Coimbatore , April 24

Cooperative tea factories under `The Indcoserve' umbrella are aiming to globalise the tea market with the co-ordination of the Tea Board.

That the Indco factories are serious about this vision became evident when its teas not only cleared UPASI's (United Planters' Association of Southern India) litmus test but were also among the few identified by the Pakistan tea delegation.

After tasting the teas, the delegates indicated their liking for one, among the four entries from the Indco stable.

Indco was asking for Rs 55/kg (landed cost) for that particular CTC grade and was unwilling to relent to the visiting team's demand for a drop in the price.

The delegation appeared to have given in, although eventually nothing concrete emerged out of their discussion.

Indco sources, however, were excited about this development.

`Ooty Tea'

The special officer of The Indcoserve, Mr P. Krishnan, recalled the initiation of the `Ooty Tea' exercise and its growing market.

"We are selling over 3 million kg of tea under the `Ooty Tea' brand," he said and added that the teas from the co-operative sector fetched close to Rs 47 a kg even in the local market.

There are 15 operative industrial cooperative tea factories, covering about 32,000 acres of small holdings and 20,000 small tea growers.

The total production of both orthodox and CTC grades of tea from these factories is estimated at around 17 million kg/annum, against the installed capacity of 27 million kg. All these teas are offered for sale at the Government mooted electronic auction centre TeaServe. According to Mr Krishnan, 60 per cent of these teas were being exported, though not directly by Indco.

A look at the quantities traded at TeaServe last week show that out of the 2.57 lakh kg on offer, 2.45 lakh kg were sold. The rate averaged Rs 44.51/kg.

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