Over the last few decades more and more tea has been offered for sale at the auction centre in Mombasa in Kenya. As a result, the Mombasa auction has become one of the largest tea auction centres in the world and has gained a reputation as a source for some of the best CTC teas in the world. The weekly activates and market trends at the Mombasa auction attracts the interests of all the international tea companies and is used create benchmarks for teas from other tea producing nations.
The first export auction system in Kenya was held in 1956 in Nairobi on a very small scale. The vast majority of East African tea production was directly consigned to the London Auctions. Over the years, there was more incentive for international companies to open up offices in Kenya due to the increased quantity being consigned to the auction in Nairobi. In the late 1960s, the auction was moved from Nairobi to the Mombasa since the tea was stored and shipped from Mombasa.
Due to Kenya’s all year-round production, the auction is held each week and is spread across 2 days. All sales are held under the self-regulating rules and regulations of the East African Tea Trade Association. Each tea producer will nominate an auction or selling broker to catalogue their teas and offer it for sale in the auction. The auction is held in public and buyers compete for lots of tea by bidding against each other in an auction room. International tea companies that do not have offices in Kenya will nominate a buying agent or broker to represent their interests in the auction.
Teas from other African producers including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Madagascar, Zambia and Zimbabwe are also offered for sale at the Mombasa auction. Mombasa is now the only auction centre in the world that offers teas from more than one country.
The tea sold at the Mombasa auction is 100% for export and the buyer representation spreads to over fifty countries. The principle destinations are the United Kingdom, Egypt, and Pakistan. The tea is normally blended with teas from other origins and packed into teabags.
With the closure of the London Auction in 1998 the volumes offered at the Mombasa Auctions have considerably grown. The reliability of supply and quality of teas sold in the Mombasa auction have helped it to effectively promote African teas.