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REVIEW OF THE TEA TRADE OF THE UNITED STATES.
FOR THE YEAR 1912.
RECEIPTS AT ALL THE PORTS FOR THE YEAR 1912 AND THE PREVIOUS THREE YEARS.
1909. 33.833,377 44.072.162 8.879.983
431.017 4,319.543 12,294,028
ANNUAL REVIEW OF THE TEA TRADE OF THE UNITED STATES.
For the tea trade, the year 1912 was decidedly unsatisfactory, business being quiet and prices showing a downward trend. Substantial losses were taken by most importers, prices declining 2 to 5 cents a pound during the process of slow liquidation of spot supplies. The depression and reaction came as a sequence of the speculation noted during 1911, incidental to the green tea situation and was further accelerated by a hand-to-mouth buying on the part of the country. Yet, under ordinary circumstances, a corrective should have been found in smaller imports, which receded almost to the 1910 level. Undoubtedly, the strong market in the Far East was a detrimental influence, for American buyers competed keenly at a range of values well above prices at which tea could be bought in the United States, thereby inviting losses when the purchases should reach this country. This was especially the case in Japans and Formosas, which were in active demand at the opening of the season.
Statistically, it will be noted that the situation improved, and if the opinion of usually well informed people counts for aught, the readjustment has placed the market on a thoroughly sound basis. Owing to the fact that, with the exception of New York, warehouse stock statistics are not available, it is impossible accurately to figure the consumption. Competent authorities state that it can be estimated at about 100,000,000 pounds or otherwise there would be a larger stock of surplus teas in the United States. During the past four years, it might be noted, the receipts at all ports averaged 100,500,000 pounds. Yet warehouse stocks here on January 1, 1913 were 47,000 half chests less than in 1910, the total being 453,000 half chests or about 2,265,000 pounds. The actual receipts for the calendar year 1912 were 98,706,241 pounds which compares with 104,165,654 pounds during 1911, or a decrease for the twelve months of 5,459,413 pounds. Invisible supplies are believed to have been greatly reduced, and it is fair to assume that the total for the entire country, including warehouse stocks at the end of the season, will be less than 5,000,000 pounds. There are also indications that tea drinking is increasing in the United States, in part due to the high price of coffee and in part to a change in the customs of the nation. Undoubtedly, the propaganda made by the India-Ceylon people has been a weighty in fluence in this direction.
The trade during the year labored under the uncertainty engendered by the tea standard law though there was less complaint of discrimination. It is recognized that no matter how earnestly the Treasury Department and the Board of Tea Experts may insist upon uniformity of inspection, there is bound to be varied interpretation of the regulation at the various ports. During the year under review, the board which is now composed largely of jobbing representatives rather than importers, applied the READ test for finding color and facing, though most trade circles maintain that it is an ineffective method for testing teas because of the uncertainty involved in the pressure used in scraping and the light under which the microscopic examination is made.
That the test was not infallible was shown by the fact that teas rejected by the examiners as containing color were subsequently admitted by the Board of United States General Appraisers as complying with the law. Opposition was made to the test on the grounds of illegality, in that it was not in accordance with “the usages and the customs of the trade” as the standard law prescribes, but the final verdict of the appraisers handling the appeal was to the effect that it should be used in conjunction with the chemical analysis.
It is an interesting commentary upon the situation that in the endeavor to shut out teas containing color, sight was rather lost of the question of quality, which had previously been the chief requisite for admittance to this country. A large quantity of low grade teas came in that would ordinarily have been shut out, which contributed in no small measure to the unsettled conditions of the market. It is hoped that greater uniformity of inspection can, at least, be attained, though
some trade circles believe that no staple conditions will exist until the whole standard law is eliminated and the work of tea examinations transferred to the Department of Agriculture.
CHINA AND JAPAN TEA.
TOTAL NUMBER OF PoundS IMPORTED INTO THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA
FOR TWELVE MONTHS FROM JULY IST TO JUNE 30TH.
Total NUMBER OF POUNDS IMPORTED INTO THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA
FOR TWELVE MONTHS FROM JULY 1ST TO JUNE 30TH.
TOTAL NUMBER OF Pounds of Tea IM PORTED INTO THE UNITED STATES AND
CANADA FOR TWELVE MONTHS FROM JULY 1ST TO JUNE 30ru.
Japans.—These teas felt the effect of the decline most severely, owing to the fact that the country had stocked up with the excessive shipments of the previous year. Prices reacted about 5 cents a pound, the cheaper quality, of which a great deal was imported, being espe. cially under pressure. Yet, the total number of pounds received during the trade year, which extends from July 1st to June 30th was some 1,700,000 pounds less than in 1911-1912, the total being 35,500,000 pounds. The consumption, is said to bave fallen off, owing to the growing competition of India-Ceylons.
Greens.—Green teas more than made up for the decrease in Japans, 15,000,000 pounds being imported as compared with 8,800,000 pounds
*March 1st to February 28th.
the previous year. As already stated, little attention was paid to the cup quality, but it is interesting to note that very nearly the normal importation came in under the READ test. Prices reacted in sympathy with other teas, thougb there was no marked pressure of offerings, especially the better grades.
Formosa Oolong.–The movement of Formosa teas to this country showed the natural result of the unsatisfactory outcome of the 1911 rise, imports falling off sharply to 15,200,000 pounds as compared with 19,806,000 pounds the previous year. The crop was small, which in turn tended to reduce importations. Owing to the fact that some 1,000,000 pounds were lost or damaged in transit, prices were fairly steady. Supplies of desirable Formosas are not large, either visible or invisible.
Foochou Oolong.-Shipments of these teas dwindled to only 500,000 pounds as compared with 2,750,000 pounds the previous year. One explanation of the big decrease was fear of the color test, though, as a matter of fact, the general tendency of late has been toward reduced importations. Owing to the substitution of Formosas for blending purposes, there has been a poorer market for Foochows.
Congous.—Congous declined about 2} cents for the lower grades despite the fact that imports fell off to 8,700,000 pounds as compared with 10,400,000 pounds the previous year. Doubtless, the decreasing demand for this tea in the United States was a factor, there being incidentally a fair stock in warehouse carried over from previous years.
India Ceylons.—There was 25, 274,000 pounds of India-Ceylon imported during the year which compares with 27,538,000 in 1911-1912. The consumption of these teas is steadily increasing, and inasmuch as a pound makes more cups than Oolongs, the increased importations of recent years do not tell the whole story. The decrease, as compared, with 1911-1912, was not unnatural in view of the fact that the latter year showed a gain of 6,000,000 pounds over 1910–1911. Of the importations, 24,051,504 pounds were black teas and 1,222,381 greens, which compares with 26,162,377 pounds and 1,376,541 pounds, respectively, for the previous crop year.
REVIEW OF THE WINE AND SPIRIT TRADE.
FOR THE YEAR 1912.
CONDITIONS in the wine and spirit trade during the year 1912, were in general quite satisfactory. Distributors of imported products, as a whole, report having done a considerably larger business than the year previous, and dealers in domestic wines and spirits are also well satisfied with the net results for the year. All records of production of distilled spirits in the United States, were broken in the year ending June 30, 1912, 178,249,985 gallons having been made, this being the heaviest production in the history of the Internal Revenue Department. The withdrawals were phenomenal, amounting to 133,259,147 gallons. On July 1, 1912, there remained on deposit, in various warehouses throughout the country, 263,785,832 taxable gallons of distilled spirits.
Legislation.—In Ohio, constitutional amendments providing for liquor licenses, were adopted by the constitutional convention, and later ratified by the people at an election. In Maryland a local option law was proposed but after long discussion tabled.. New Jersey also refused to adopt a local option law.
The proposed legislation known as the KENYON Bill, which aimed to stop interstate shipments of alcoholic beverages into a prohibition state, was under consideration in the United State Senate, and was a source of much concern to the trade. The constitutionality of the measure is called in question.
West Virginia has adopted a state-wide prohibition law. The vote was decisive, the majority for, being over 75,000. In Colorado where the question of state-wide prohibition was an issue, it was defeated by more than 50,000 majority, although this was the first election in that state at which the women were permitted to vote on all questions.
Importations. The following resume of importations of wine and spirits at the Port of New York during the year 1912 shows a healthy condition in trade. As a whole it will be noted that there has been an increase over the preceding year, and the figures compare favorably with former years.
Bordeaux and Burgundy Wines.—The prediction made a year ago regarding the importations of wines from the Gironde and Cote d'Or wines have been fulfilled concerning the amount of business done in these during the year 1912. The table of importations published below