Tea industry brainstorms best course for online auction

Wednesday, 1 April 2020 02:31 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Several rounds of discussions via video conferencing between brokers, buyers, solutions provider
  • More discussions today followed by final call by CTTA
  • If consensus reached, mock trial tomorrow, with e-auction starting from Friday
  • Failure will mean world’s largest single origin tea auction inactive for two consecutive weeks, causing financial loss to producers 

The tea industry is busy with multiple stakeholder meetings to chart the best course to hold what would be a historic, first-ever online auction later this week.

With last week’s auction cancelled owing to social distancing measures as part of the Government’s fight against the spread of COVID-19, the industry is keen to take the electronic route despite teething challenges. The e-auction will enable sellers and brokers to catalogue teas electronically and buyers to bid online. 

Members of the Colombo Tea Brokers (CBA) have had discussions via video conferencing with e-auction platform provider CICRA Solutions. Separate discussions were conducted with a group of buyers yesterday, with another round to be held this morning, before a final and decisive meeting convened by the Colombo Tea Traders Association later today.

If consensus is reached on the recommended “minimum viable solution” for the first ever e-auction, then the industry is hopeful to conduct it starting from Friday. This will be after a mock test run of the e-auction on Thursday.

Sources said the e-auction platform will be further improved with key learnings from the first exercise thereafter.

CICRA is a leading IT solutions provider for commodities-broking companies.

Given strict enforcement of curfew and social distancing measures, the postponed tea auctions were scheduled for earlier this week, with BMICH seen as an alternative location. However, an agreement could not be reached, prompting the industry to fast track the e-auction option.

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

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. 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.