Kolkata, Nov 11 More than 30 buyers bid enthusiastically for over 14,000 packages of orthodox tea in a manual auction, the first in 12 years in the city. The last such sale was organised in 2011, after which orthodox tea sales shifted to the e-auction mode.

Buyers bid for 795 lots consisting of 14,343 packages from catalogues offered by J Thomas, Parcon and Contemporary. The special pre-Diwali sale was organised by the newly-formed Association of Tea Auctioneers (ATA).

The manual tea auction used to be a celebration once upon a time. “The manual auction has its own charm and that was re-explored at this special pre-Diwali sale. It was a nostalgic occasion, with buyers sitting at their specific seats at Nilhat House, the same seats they used to occupy 12 years ago, before the shift to e-auctions,” Association Secretary Sujit Patra told businessline.

“All the buyers were very active during the entire auction process, which enhanced competition, resulting in good price discovery,” Patra said.

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According to Subir Das, Managing Director of Parcon, the Association of Tea Auctioneers (ATA) was formed to strengthen the auction system in North and South India.

About 13 tea auctioneers licensed by the Tea Board, including majors J Thomas, Contemporary Brokers, Paramount, Parcon, Forbes and Assam Tea Brokers, have formed the ATA.

ATA may plan another larger manual auction on the eve of International Tea Day on May 21, 2024.

Notably, the Indian tea auction system sells around 40 per cent of all tea produced in India. Auction sellers and buyers depend on their auctioneers for valuation of teas, quality standards and dispute settlement. Besides these activities, individual auctioneers liaison with the auction committees, the Tea Board, and producer and buyer associations to ensure the smooth operation of the auction system. However, there was no formal institution to collectively take up auction related issues for the overall benefit of the trade in India.

“This has necessitated the formation of an umbrella body to promote the welfare and safeguard the rights and interests of the tea auctioneers in North and South India,” Patra said, adding the Association of Tea Auctioneers is registered under the Companies Act 2013.