Tuesday, 6th February, 2018
Since its introduction to our shores in the 1600’s, tea has become an important part of our history and cultural identity. Brits have always had a love for tea - it forms an integral part of the day; from waking to a refreshing cuppa, enjoying it over numerous tea breaks and concluding the day with a soothing bedtime tea beverage.
In the UK, tea is second only to water as the most consumed beverage; we drink approximately 165 million cups a day (UK Tea & Infusions Association), that’s 60.2 billion every year.
English breakfast tea is still the most popular choice by far according to tea manufacturers Novus Tea, but they say that consumers are becoming much more adventurous and discerning in their choice of teas.
They also point out that the tea market is following the pattern of hot drinks generally, with the key growth drivers being health, novelty and premium. So, for tea, the popular choices are premium teas, healthier green teas, fruit and herbal teas, speciality blends and matcha, sales of which are growing more strongly than ever. These teas represent a fantastic opportunity for caterers to introduce a range of high quality, whole leaf teas into their menu to drive sales and profitability.
Consumers, particularly young adults aged 25 -34, are increasingly looking for hot drinks that offer functional benefits, such as an energy boost, health-giving properties or a sense of calm. Many teas meet these requirements, and the good news is that consumers are prepared to pay more for them.
“The number of tea blends now available offer an attractive alternative to coffee, with some teas proffering specific properties addressing health trends and dietary concerns and with some speciality teas meeting consumers’ interests in provenance, sustainability and elevated quality,” explains Nina Chudasama, Founder, Hope & Glory manufacturers of premium, speciality tea.
“Younger consumers in particular are drawn by the vast array of premium and whole-flower and loose-leaf teas readily available; tea infused cocktails, matcha green tea and indulgent rich spiced teas such as chai add to the tea-drinking occasion,” adds Nina.
At Hope & Glory they have seen a trend towards drinking teas and infusions for their nutritional and health benefits; teas such as Green, Jasmine and White are becoming increasingly popular, as well as infusions like Peppermint, for its digestive qualities, and Chamomile for its ability to soothe.
“Consumers now are better informed and take an interest in the provenance and traceability of what they consume,” says Nina. “
“Data from Kantar Worldpanel has shown growth in the organic market of 6.3% in the 52 weeks to 13 August 2017, with projected sales reaching £2.2 billion for 2017 as a whole.”
After all a good breakfast out-of-home is perfectly complemented by a flavoursome cup of tea – the ideal start to the day and an occasion enjoyed by many consumers. Adele Ward, Clipper Teas Brand Controller at Wessanen UK tells us; “People are very driven by the taste and quality of their tea, a key consideration for foodservice operators looking to drive breakfast sales.
“Our Everyday Organic Tea (80-bag pack) is one of the fastest-growing teas in the category, with value sales growing at 11% year-on-year (IRI 52 w/e 24 Jun, 17 vs 52 w/e 25 Jun, 16).
“We believe this is due to its superior taste and natural proposition. We’re championing this in our nationwide Flavour that Sings campaign which continues over the summer.
Traceability is a big priority for consumers, with many favouring ethical brands that are transparent with how and where their products are made. As a company with a long history of ethical tea sourcing and fair trading, Clipper Teas can help venues meet this demand.
Adele adds; “The trend for healthier lifestyles is certainly affecting the tea market, which is reflected in the teas being drunk at breakfast time. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how specialised teas can have a big health benefit.
“Green teas, for example, give us a good dose of antioxidants and can have a positive impact on our metabolism, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, among other great benefits to our overall wellbeing.
“Many people look to their morning beverage to help them feel refreshed and revitalised for the day ahead.”
What does the future hold for tea OOH?
The BBC says 2018 will be the year we see tea win out over coffee in terms of NPD, with floral flavours such as rose and lavender trumping the UKs obsession with pumpkin spice. Sales of herbal tea are on the rise and ‘people are beginning to think of tea with the same reverence as coffee for its many varieties.’
Additionally figures from the Tetley Tea Report show a 3.6% growth in out of home tea consumption YOY (doubling from 1.6% to 3.6% during 2016 alone) whilst coffee remains a stagnant sector, even seeing deterioration in growth!
A 2017 report from Mintel on Coffee and Tea Trends states, ‘consumers are increasingly looking for foods and drinks that provide a functional benefit, such as energy boosting, anti-inflammatory, relaxing or antioxidant’.
Nina explains; “Teas such as Matcha, a stone ground powdered green tea with reportedly high antioxidant levels, are proving popular with iGen consumers, a third of which say they would happily pay more for coffee or tea with added health benefits.
“The influx of pop-up tea bars, which proved such a success throughout 2017 are set to become a permanent fixture.”
For Hope & Glory and in fact many tea manufacturers the biggest movement in tea however, is in the quality of the tea we are consuming.
“As with the movement away from instant coffee to whole bean, similarly we are seeing a shift away from “mainstream” tea made with poor quality tea leaf grades such as dustings, or fannings - the small pieces of tea that are left over after higher grades of teas have been gathered - to whole leaf or flower teas and infusions,” adds Nina.