Global tea production hit a new record high in 2004, growing 2% to reach an estimated 3.2m tonnes, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has reported.

The expansion was mainly due to increases in Turkey, China, Kenya, Malawi, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, offsetting declines in other major producing countries, notably India and Bangladesh. Big rises were registered in: Turkey - up 32% to 205,500 tonnes, due to higher yields; Kenya - up 11% through good weather and processing capacity growth; and Malawi, up 19%.

Top producer India's output fell 4.3% to 820,200 because of bad weather and the closure of around 70 Assam tea gardens.

Worldwide, tea exports increased 4.4% in 2004 to reach 1.47m tonnes, with overseas sales growing for all major producing countries.