Darjeeling's tea industry is feeling the heat of the Russia-Ukraine war, as European buyers are not keen to lift the commodity due to depreciation of the euro that has made imports more expensive for them.
Prices of Darjeeling tea fell to half at the auctions last week compared with the previous week as a result of weak demand from Europe, raising concerns in the industry.
"The Russia-Ukraine war has created an air of uncertainty in the entire Europe. Europeans are feeling the pinch of the rising inflationary pressure," Binod Mohan, a Darjeeling planter and former chairman of the Darjeeling Tea Association, told ET. "Even if they are buying tea, they are not ready to pay more. The price is at last year's level even though our cost of production has gone up due to a hike in the prices of coal, fertilisers and other raw materials."
European buyers are offering Rs 10-20 per kg, depending on the quality of the tea, to Darjeeling's producers.
Anshuman Kanoria, chairman of the Indian Tea Exporters Association, said the Darjeeling tea business had been suffering since the agitation in the hills in 2017. "There has been no effort from the government to promote Darjeeling tea in the world markets. The impact of the Russia-Ukraine war is being felt no doubt, but there should be an effort from the government to revive Darjeeling tea, which is considered as 'champagne of teas'," he said. "The domestic market is flooded with Nepal teas. Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal has asked the Tea Board to work out a package for promoting tea in the world markets. We are waiting for the package."