Historic first-ever tea eAuction goes live today

Saturday, 4 April 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Ex-Estate sale of 720,000 kilos up for bidding from 11 a.m. onwards
  • Over 300 buyers registered on electronic platform along with 8 brokers
  • High and Medium Growns sale to follow

 The Colombo tea auction, which is the oldest and uninterrupted in the world, will open a new chapter today when it transitions onto an electronic platform for the first time in history.

With no auctions for two weeks due to partial shutdown to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country, the industry has been scrambling to take the online route to ensure continuity of supply and demand and cash flow. The e-auction will enable sellers and brokers to catalogue teas electronically and buyers to bid online. 

Sri Lanka Tea Board Chairman Jayampathy Molligoda told the Daily FT that holding of the online auction would give confidence to the global tea market given Sri Lanka’s status internationally. He commended the Ceylon Tea Traders’ Association (CTTA) and the Colombo Brokers’ Association (CBA) for taking the bold initiative.

Online auction has been spoken about in Sri Lanka many years, but the industry had failed to reach an agreement. However, given the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to keep the economically-important tea industry going, the trade and brokers have united.

This was possible after multiple discussions between various stakeholders, mock runs and training by electronic platform provider CICRA Solutions during the past few days.

Forbes and Walker Tea Brokers Managing Director Yshan Fernando said today would see the conduct of Ex-Estate sale, which has around 800,000 kilos of tea on offer via over 680 lots.

He said this quantity was manageable and could be concluded within three to four hours of online auction.

Thereafter high and medium grown tea sales will follow with an estimated over 1,200 lots on offer amounting to over 600,00 kilos of tea.

According to CICRA Solutions, over 300 buyers have registered on the online system along with eight brokers.

The industry is confident that a successful first eAuction today will encourage the trade and brokers to clear backlog of Low Grown tea on Sunday or Monday onwards.

Other tea-producing and exporting countries such as India and Kenya have automated auctions at present.

The Colombo Tea Auction is considered to be the largest tea auction in the world, in terms of the number of lots sold, as well as a model auction centre, on account of its degree of efficiency and professionalism. The auction handles over 300 million kilograms of tea annually.

The industry is confident that a successful first eAuction today will encourage the trade and brokers to clear backlog of High and Medium Grown tea on Sunday and Low Growns on Monday onwards.

In 1998, when the legendary London Tea Auction ceased to operate, the Colombo Tea Auction became one of the oldest functioning tea auctions. It also lays claim to be the largest single-origin tea auction in the world.