P.S. Sundar

Coonoor, March 20

PRICES dropped sharply at the tea auctions conducted by the Coonoor Tea Trade Association (CTTA) here as the demand continued to be sluggish despite the volume offered remaining low at 10.07 lakh kg. Some teas fetched even Rs 10 a kg lower than the previous week. There were heavy withdrawals on some grades.

"Due to the uncertainty arising from the proposed VAT, most buyers declined from operating. Hence, a large quantity remained unsold," recorded the market report of the Joint Brokers.

Among the corporate buyers, Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL) lent useful support. Duncans was selective. Tata Tea and GPI were conspicuous by their absence in trading. Indcoserve picked up some teas for its "Ooty Tea" project. Madhu Jayanthi was also active.

In all, some 40,000 kg were sold for over Rs 60 a kg. The sluggish demand prevailed on the export purchases as well. While some buyers for Pakistan were seen to be active, they insisted on picking up only those smaller grades with better leaf appearance. The maximum price they paid was Rs 46 a kg.

The buyers for CIS and Russia chose their grades at around Rs 47 - some Rs 2 lower than last week. The exporters to Poland were selective - also lowering their bids by Rs 3 to dip to Rs 39-40. There was no purchase for Iraq. Among the CTC teas from the bought-leaf factories, Darmona Estate continued to top at Rs 81 a kg. Hittakkal, Garswood and Vigneshwar Estates came a distant second each getting Rs 70 a kg.

Quotations held by the auctioneers indicated Rs 36-38 a kg for the plain dusts and Rs 66-69 for the brighter liquoring grades. The plainer grades of the leaf category got Rs 36-38, while the brighter liquoring grades fetched Rs 64-66.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 21, 2005)
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