Kenyan tea exports to UK down following Brexit vote

Nic Hailey Unilever
UK High Commissioner to Kenya, Nic Hailey, samples some tea at the Unilever offices in Mombasa. Photo: Twitter/UKinKenya

Following the vote to leave the European Union, tea volumes purchased by the UK from Kenya have fallen as European countries increasingly choose direct imports.

The Tea Directorate’s industry performance report shows the volume purchased by Britain dropped from 5.4 million kg in March last year to 3.1 million kg in the same month this year.

Explaining the drop in volume purchased, the directorate says that Britain is no longer buying same amount of tea from Kenya due to a reduced re-exportation market to other European countries who had been securing the commodity from the UK.

“We can comfortably attribute this decline to Brexit, Britain has been a major buyer of our tea in Europe and it was buying for both local consumption and re-export to other European countries.”

– Samuel Ogola from the Tea Directorate 

This fall is not unexpected as experts warned last year that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union could see a drop in volumes of tea that the UK imports from Kenya due to anticipated decline of its re-export market to other nations.

The UK is a major re-exporter of tea, exporting 17 per cent of the beverage it imported in 2014, with countries like Republic of Ireland, Germany, Poland and France being its major markets.

Mr Ogola said countries that used to buy Kenyan tea indirectly from Britain are now procuring it directly from Kenya, with volumes of tea exported to Poland and Germany growing by 39 and 12 per cent respectively in the same period.

The data from the directorate indicates that the volumes exported to Germany went up from 75,000 to 85,000 with sales to Poland jumping to 504,787 from 363,554 in March last year.