After the surge in stock up buying of tea in the early days of lock down last year, tea sales have returned to more normal patterns, but last year’s anomalous sales patterns mean year on year comparisons are difficult to make.

The volume of tea bought, and frequency of purchase have both risen yoy, up 2.4% and 3.8% respectively.

Tetley continues to have the greatest number of buyers and household penetration of all tea brands (Kantar).

Within core grocery, value sales of total tea have fallen slightly by 0.7%, but wellbeing sectors like fruit & herbal; speciality; decaf and redbush are all showing positive growth.

With data annually lapping the sales spikes at the height of the pandemic, both convenience and impulse show a decline in total tea sales.

Total Scotland however bucks the trend, with volume tea sales in the 12 weeks to 19 June 21 up 4.3% and up 0.1% in value (Nielsen).

Within impulse, the growing interest in wellbeing teas seen in the multiples is reflected with volume sales of fruit and herbals up 2.6% and decaf teas up 1.1% (Nielsen).

The popularity of these sectors is reflected in total Scotland too, with volume sales of fruit & herbals up 6.3%, decaf up 9.2%, redbush up 9.5% and speciality up 3.4% (Nielsen).

Parminder Walia, Category Development Manager, Tata Consumer Products, comments: “Tea shoppers tend to be habitual and brand loyal, so it makes sense to bring attention to the big sellers. Recognising and reflecting regional differences is important here.”

It makes sense to keep on top of the best sellers in tea and regional differences. In Scotland for instance Tetley is by far the dominant brand with 43.5% volume share, followed by Unilever’s Scottish Blend in the number two slot with 11.7% volume share (Nielsen).

“When considering what teas to stock, understanding how shoppers shop and the type of shopper missions common to your store will help guide decisions on your core range,” says Walia.

Tea is a staple top up buy as well as a regular shopping list purchase and catering to different shopper missions with relevant pack sizes is important.

“The optimum selection of teas will depend on the type and size of store and customer demographic, but across all channels everyday black teas top the list of tea buys accounting for 76.4% of all teas sold in retail,” adds Walia. “The core bulk of tea buyers sit in the black tea space and this discerning group are receptive to paying a little bit more for improved taste experience.”

Tetley believes that this important mainstay of the category has strong potential which the brand is capitalising on with a string of new product launches.

Tapping into a key consumer desire to start and energise the day with a healthy beverage, Tetley is mirroring the journey consumers are taken on in the coffee category and making the trade up journey in black tea much more explicit to shoppers.

First up is the introduction of new look packs of its classic teas, Tetley English Breakfast and Tetley Earl Grey 50s designed to highlight the provenance and quality of the tea blends more clearly.

Tetley Earl Grey 50s in particular have performed strongly yoy, with volume sales up 31.6% in the multiples, up 70.9% in convenience 78.6% in impulse.

The stand-out new design began to appear on shelf in selected multiples from the Summer with an RSP of £2.29.

Before the Autumn chills set in, Tetley will add another classic to this line up, Tetley Gold Brew. With an RSP of £2.85 for 75 bags, Tetley Gold Brew is a sophisticated blend of the finest African and Assam teas.

Further enhancing the black tea journey, Tetley is launching a new range of Discovery teas. With ingredients different from Tetley’s standard blends, the finest black teas from estates across Africa have been blended to form the black tea base of the range.

Tetley Discovery Teas boast original flavour combinations rich in taste and aroma, sourced from unusual destinations, including Black Tea with Lemon & Ginger; Black Tea with Apple, Cinnamon and Vanilla and Black Tea with Pomegranate, Raspberry & Goji Berry. The teas have an RSP of £1.50 for 20 bags.

“Continuing interest in health and wellbeing is creating opportunities for sales of a broader range of teas,” claims Walia.

As a companion to everyday black, a black decaf should feature in the core offering. Sales of decaf black teas have been extremely strong throughout lockdown and continue to show growth, with volume sales up 10.3% in core grocery; 9.2% across Scotland; and 0.5% in impulse.

“Decaf drinkers are an important group as they will not choose an alternative tea if decaf is not available. Decaf is also a good trade up option with a higher pence per kilo than everyday black,” Walia continues. “Decaf can be a tricky area, many options disappoint in taste. To help reassure customers, Tetley decaf has a great taste award and is the best-selling decaf on the market accounting for around 30% of all decaf sales in total market.”

Volume sales of Tetley decaf in core grocery are up 8.9% yoy (Nielsen).

“Tetley anticipates that non-black tea sales such as decaf, green, fruit and herbal and rooibos will edge closer to everyday black sales, so it makes sense to pave the way for the future and capitalise on current and future trends,” Walia adds.

The grocery multiples best illustrate the opportunities for sales of non-black teas. Here non-black everyday teas account for close to a quarter of all tea sales (24.4%), across Scotland they account for 21.8%; but this falls significantly in convenience to 16.3% and to just 8.8% in impulse, which indicates room for growth in this area.

Particularly popular among 18-24s with 39% regularly choosing herbal tea and 26% a fruity brew, higher value fruit and herbal teas are good to consider. Volume sales here are up 7.2% across core grocery; 9.1% across Scotland; and up 3.5% in total impulse (Nielsen).

Tetley has a full programme of activity planned for the coming months. From October, the brand will begin a new £2.5m marketing programme. Spanning 6 months, the campaign will centre on a new advertising creative and brand positioning which will be reflected across traditional media, multi digital channels and be evident in stores and depots.

October will also see Tetley’s first on-pack promotion in 6 years. Special promotional packs of Tetley Original 240s and 80s will enable consumers to spread a little warmth and care by having two specially personalised sachets of Tetley Original sent to someone they care about.

Bryan Martins, marketing and category director, Ecotone UK, comments: “While taste is important, more consumers are considering what impact their choice of tea is having on the planet. Are the tea bags plastic-free? Does the brand treat workers fairly and how does it help the planet? These consumers are what our natural, fair and delicious brand, Clipper, would call Generation Tea. People that that care about people and the planet and make conscious purchasing decisions.”

Clipper is the fastest growing black tea brand in the category. Not only is Clipper a founding Fairtrade partner and the largest organic tea brand, it also released the first unbleached, biodegradable tea bag, removing harmful micro-plastics, and creating a purely natural tea that is better for people and the planet.

Green tea has seen a resurgence of popularity which correlates well with the trend of shoppers seeking healthy alternatives. Green tea can aid digestion and speed up your metabolism, setting you up for the day. Clipper has the best-selling Green Tea SKU in the market which is experiencing value sales of +11.2%.

“Trends in tea are currently being influenced by a shift in consumer mindset rather than flavours,” says Martins. “Tea drinkers have become much more mindful about what they put into their body.”

Clipper’s tea bags are always fully biodegradable, unbleached, and non-GM – important considerations to the conscious consumer.

The pandemic has given customers time to reconnect with nature and consider their consumption habits. Demand for Fairtrade and organic tea has soared, with sales for Fairtrade tea up +14%, while Organic sales boomed by +43% (Kantar).

“With health and wellbeing front and centre of people’s mind, we expect to see continued growth in functional infusions that can support consumer lifestyle needs,” adds Martins. Clipper has a wide portfolio of infusions, including teas such as Clipper Sleep Easy and Snore & Peace.

In 2021, Clipper also launched its first range of Hemp Infusions. Clipper Organic Karma Mama Hemp is infused with Hemp Seed, Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon Balm and Tulsi (Holy Basil). Meanwhile the Organic Groovy Ginger Hemp uses Hemp Seed and warming Ginger extract, alongside Lemongrass and Chamomile. Both variants are packed full flavour and deliver a relaxing ‘hug in a mug’.

Offering a point of difference in the Hemp tea segment, the blends use hemp seed which is ordinarily discarded in hemp production. Unlike hemp leaves that have a strong, grassy taste, hemp seeds don’t have a specific flavour.

Clipper has launched innovative flavour options, Organic Bring the Zing, Organic Cleanse with Benefits and Organic & Fairtrade Restoring Roots. Each designed to either help with relaxation, to provide an energy boost or to aid digestion through the careful selection of impactful botanicals and ingredients.

To raise consumer awareness around the benefits of organic farming, during Organic September, Clipper will host an activation highlighting the damage that the harmful use of pesticides has on local biodiversity. The brand will reach shoppers through an immersive integrated campaign spanning experiential, creative and influencer marketing.

Hannah Morris, Category Team Leader, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, comments; “With over 24 million (Kantar) households in the UK buying coffee, the category has a clear significance, with an ever-growing demand for great taste and a diverse range of coffee styles. Over 61% of coffee shop consumers look for their favourite café blends to drink at home (Allegra). Many of the coffee trends in retail have been driven by demand in Out of Home coffee consumption, as consumers look to recreate their favourite coffee-shop style beverages from the comfort of their own homes.”

The flavours category has become an increasingly popular in the coffee market in recent years, with many consumers looking for unique flavours to suit their tastes. Flavours, such as Salted Caramel, make up a hugely important segment within specialties category – growing ahead of the market (+26% RSV L2Y, category is growing +16% (Nielsen) and make up 30.5% of the specialities category. By tapping into trends and allowing consumers to create additional theatre to their coffee at home, as they would get in a coffee shop, allows retailers to ensure they continue to meet and exceed the demand of their shoppers.

Kenco Duo allows consumers to enjoy a coffee-shop style drink at home and recreate that signature magic swirl, all without the need for a coffee machine. Kenco has successfully tapped into the wider market trend as at-home consumers have been seeking to replicate their favourite coffee shop. Kenco specialities have particularly benefited from this trend and have seen double-digit value sales growth of +33% in the MAT (Nielsen). To further capitalise on the flavours trend, Kenco’s new Salted Caramel Latte Duo recently joined the hugely popular pre-existing Duo range including: Latte, Flat White, Sweetened and Unsweetened Cappuccino.

There has been a strong rise in single-serve coffee, demonstrating 20% value sales growth, reaching 20% share of total coffee sales (Nielsen).

“It is essential to get your range and offering right to make the most from the overall hot beverage category,” says Morris. “The use of block merchandising is a simple yet effective way of helping shoppers find what they need easily. Grouping related category products together such as tea, coffee and sugars/sweeteners creates a clear and effective shopping journey. As well as signposting both the category and leading brands like Kenco.”

“It is also key that retailers respond to consumer and market trends to ensure they are maximising the full sales opportunity that coffee currently offers,” Morris continues. “As the category becomes more sophisticated, there is significant opportunity to further increase basket size and spend across multiple complementary categories.”

With total retail category sales of coffee soaring by +8% year on year and currently at £1.5bn (Kantar), it’s clear that stay at home Brits were keen to replicate their usual coffee shop experience at home during the challenges of the last year, with this trend looking set to continue.

Cafédirect, which invests 50% of all profits into Producers Direct – a UK charity that works directly with farmers to improve sustainability and livelihoods, right across the coffee growing world – has been one of the key beneficiaries of this trend, with retail sales of its range of Single Grind, Freeze Dried and Beans surging by +46% in value (Nielsen) in the last year.

“We very quickly witnessed a significant increase in retail sales from the first lockdown last March, and that upward trajectory has very much increased ever since,” explains Lesley Parker, Brand Controller for Cafédirect at RH Amar.

It’s the premium end of the category that has seen the greatest growth. Sales of Roast & Ground, for example, are up by 14%, whilst Single Grind offerings and Beans are up by +8% and +16% respectively. It’s the same picture in Instant Coffee, too, with all the growth coming from more premium offerings. Sales of Freeze Dried products, which account for more than half (£372 million) of instant coffee’s total sales of £705 million, are up by +5% year on year, whilst sales of the category’s more entry level granule-based products are down by -0.1% to account for £118 million (Nielsen).

“It’s clear, therefore, that the direction of travel continues to be towards the more premium end of the category, and it’s important that wholesalers and retailers of all shapes and sizes bear these trends in mind when deciding what to stock,” says Parker.

Cafédirect gave its Single Origins range of coffees a new look for 2021 in March, as well as introducing new Colombia Reserva (RRP: £3.99, 227gm) to the range. The new look features bold, on-pack graphics to offer shoppers clear visual clues to the line-up across Machu Picchu full strength and decaffeinated, Mexico-inspired Mayan Gold, and Kilimanjaro.

Cafédirect has also introduced a number of promotions throughout 2021 to support its popular, three-strong range of Roast & Ground Blends – Smooth, Lively & Intense (all RRP: £3.75, 227gm) – to create even greater awareness and promote trial.

Last, but not least, Cafédirect gave its Everyday Tea offering a new look for 2021.

To celebrate the new look for Single Origins, Cafédirect was back on air from February with the first of two planned TV advertising bursts behind range hero Machu Picchu.

In line with Cafédirect’s growth plans for 2021, it is promoting its brands and products throughout 2021, including through a half-price promotion across the Blends range on popular shopping app Shopmium this spring. The promotion featured alongside a full-screen lifestyle ad on the Shopmium app and was promoted via social, with an estimated reach of 1 million impressions created among target shoppers.


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