Tea sales fall as Brits lose taste for cuppa

By Rick Pendrous contact

- Last updated on GMT

UK sales of standard tea have fallen by 6% over the past five years
UK sales of standard tea have fallen by 6% over the past five years

Related tags: Tea, Mintel

Britons’ love affair with drinking tea could be a thing of the past as a new study finds that tea sales have fallen by 6% since 2010.

New research from market analyst Mintel found that across the tea retail market in the UK, value sales had fallen from £699M in 2010 to an estimated £654M in 2015. What’s more, in volume terms over the same time period, sales had dropped by 22%, from 97Mkg to an estimated 76Mkg. Mintel forecast that volume sales would drop to 68.7Mkg by 2020.

So, it seems, Brits may be losing their thirst for the Great British cuppa, even though Mintel found over two thirds (69%) of tea drinkers agreed that drinking tea was an important part of social occasions.

Standard cuppa loses steam

UK tea drinking statistics

  • Between 2010 and 2015 tea retail sales in the UK have sunk by 22%, from 97Mkg to an estimated 76Mkg
  • 86% of tea drinkers say that tea is a good accompaniment to biscuits or cakes
  • 73% of tea drinkers say they typically drink it in the morning, compared to two thirds (66%) who drink it in the afternoon

Source: Mintel

Apparently, it is the standard cup of tea which is losing steam, with sales of ordinary teabags falling by 13% from £491M in 2012 to £425M in 2014. In comparison, sales of alternative teas have been going from strength to strength.

Between 2012 and 2014, sales of fruit and herbal teabags rose by 31% from £58M to £76M, while sales of speciality teabags rose by 15% to £63M and sales of green teabags increased by 50% to £36M.

Mintel’s research showed that many fruit and herbal tea drinkers believe in the mood enhancement qualities of these drinks with 43% agreeing they believe herbal teas can affect your mood. Meanwhile, 44% of green tea drinkers said they mainly drink these products for health benefits.

In comparison, the top qualities that consumers associate with standard tea were traditional (60%), refreshing (43%) and comforting (42%).

“Standard black tea is struggling to maintain consumers’ interest amid growing competition from other drinks – held back by a rather uninspiring image,”​ said Emma Clifford, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel.

Herbal and speaciality teas

“This has translated into the downfall of the tea category overall. Signalling that consumers are becoming more adventurous in their choice of tea is that sales of fruit or herbal teas, speciality teas and green tea continue to post impressive performances.”

What is more with tea being an established partner for biscuits and cakes, Mintel’s research also showed that falling tea sales could also be having repercussions on sales of sweet biscuits.

UK volume sales of sweet biscuits fell from 451Mkg in 2009 to an estimated 413Mkg in 2014.

“It is widely accepted that tea is a good accompaniment to biscuits and cakes,”​ added Clifford. “Given the sugar scare, however, and that usage of such treats is in decline, these strong associations could have had a negative impact on the tea market.”

*Mintel’s Tea UK 2015​ report is available to purchase, priced £1750.

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1 comment

Stronger branding is required

Posted by Frank Johnston-Banks,

Look at the strongly focused and the resultant increasingly loyal consumers for Yorkshire Tea in the north of England by Taylors of Harrogate. Who else is making differnt blends for hard & soft water? Who else has such wonderful graphics on the packging? Modern and succesful marketing is the key for any traditional product and Taylors are excellent at it.
Great tea that is going places - many people up here (including me) swear by it.....

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