The world may be heading towards a global shortage of tea, with a 68.7 million kg shortfall being reported in the almost all the major black tea-producing countries till between January and July this year.

Officials statistics show that led by Sri Lanka, which suffered a shortfall of 42.6 million kgs ( 21.3 per cent) the two other major black tea producers - Kenya and India - too have suffered shortfall on account of drought conditions. While Kenya has lost 20.8 million kgs of its crop( a 11.5 per cent drop), India's loss has been pegged at 15.8 million kgs which translates into a 3.3 per cent shortfall.

Prices have obviously been impacted and are now moving in a range of Rs 100 per kg in India, Kenya and Sri Lanka , where the upward spiral has been the steepest registering a rise of Rs 32 per kg . In India, the price hike has been the sharpest in the South where it has increased by Rs 25.7 per kg between January and June 2009.

Latest statistics show that the tea estates in India produced 460.8 million kgs of tea till July this year which is 3.3 per cent lower than the previous year (same period). Both West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, each accounting for a quarter of India's tea crop ended the first half of the year with shortfall of over five million each. Assam accounting for about 50 per cent of India's production, recovered some of its earlier losses.

Indian tea exports were also lower but earnings were higher on better realisations.