Rwanda's tea is selling at premium rates at the Mombasa Tea Auction, overshadowing price offers on Kenyan produce as international buyers focus on quality.
Weekly price offers for Rwandan teas have been on the rise in the last three months, outshining produce from Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) outlets.
This week, broken pekoe-1 (BP1) tea from Gisovu factory -- Rwanda's top outlet -- attracted a highest bid of Sh550 per kilo compared to Sh428 per kilo offer that the same grade from Meru-based Githongo factory (Kenya's best) attracted.
Traditionally, Kenya tea has attracted top prices.
"Since the grade of tea is the same across the region, that implies quality is what is creating the price difference," said Mr William Tindi, an executive at the African Tea Brokers. "Buyers may bid high or low depending on quality."
The regional teas are offered for sale at the Mombasa auction by the East African Tea Traders Association before they are shipped out of the country.
Kenya, a leading tea exporter in the world, accounts for three quarter of the produce traded at the Mombasa auction.
While prices have generally remained low at the auction in the recent months on the back of high volumes, Kenya's tea is apparently shedding its attractiveness even as factories in Rwanda work to improve the quality for export market.
While the produce from the two states, which were almost at par through the April auctions, only one of the KTDA's 65 processing factories was able to cross the Sh400 per kilo price offer. The August 6 auction data shows that KTDA's Kiptagich tea factory (Nakuru), and Ngorongo tea factory in Kiambu attracted the lowest price offers at Sh125 and Sh137 per kilo.
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