Egyptian tea imports from Kenya disrupted by ship collision

Nairobi–Some Kenyan tea export schedules have been disrupted after a ship carrying a cargo of tea collided with another vessel off the west coast of India and lost a number of containers, traders said.

"We are facing the unknown. We had cargo on board the MSC Chitra, and the fate of the consignment remains unclear," an official with a Mombasa-based tea export company told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Tea sources said the Chitra left Mombasa on 14 July with an assortment of cargo including containers of tea destined for various export markets including the UK, Egypt and Sudan.

The collision occurred on 7 August off Jawaharlal Nehru, India's busiest port, in Mumbai.

"Buyers in the targeted market expected the tea within a given timeframe, but with the mishap they may only receive their orders late or never at all depending on what is salvaged," the official said.

Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. Geneva, under whose flag the MSC Chitra operated, said the ship suffered extensive damage from the collision and was grounded.

"A number of containers have broken loose from the deck of the MSC Chitra caused by the large angle of list the vessel has taken," the company said in a statement.

The average price of Kenya's top tea ticked up to US$3.55 per kg at Tuesday's auction from US$3.45 per kg last week, brokers said.

Tea from the east Africa region is sold through a weekly auction in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa. Kenya is the world's biggest exporter of black tea.

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