Although young people are starting to experiment more with coffee, for most Britons nothing can beat a good old cuppa.

And producers are quick to stress the importance of convenience stores for tea sales. “The convenience sector is extremely important to Typhoo now, and will remain so in the future,” says Typhoo customer marketing manager - retail, Lynn Jeffries.

“Sales of Typhoo have risen by an impressive 62% in value in the latest year through independents (Kantar Worldpanel, year to October 31, 2010),” she says. “QT, our instant white tea, is also a great example of a product that suits the convenience sector perfectly.”

Yorkshire Tea has also reported strong sales, growing at 15.8% year on year. Brand owner Betty and Taylors of Harrogate says it invested more than £3m in above-the-line activity for the brand in 2010, a spend which it says will be maintained throughout the rest of this year.

As a result, Yorkshire Tea is now the third largest standard tea brand, according to the company, although it notes that there is still a significant opportunity to grow sales through the wholesale channel.

“Pricemarked packs work well within this channel and we intend to maintain this strategy going forwards,” says Yorkshire Tea brand manager James Prentice. “Our brands are regarded for their quality, and when this is coupled with our ‘everyday affordable’ positioning, this means we are seeing more consumers moving into our brands, which is reflected by our continued growth in the sector.”

Another trend within tea is a move to larger pack sizes, according to Typhoo’s Jeffries.

“This is evident in mainstream black tea where 240s have risen by a significant 23% a year, but also in fruit and herbal teas where 80s pack sizes of core flavours have been introduced.”

Activity in the past year from Typhoo Tea has included an on-pack ‘Golden Teabag’ promotion as one of the ‘Best of British’ brands supporting the golden anniversary of Coronation Street. The company also continued its support of the charity English Federation of Disability Sport in 2010 through the appointment of a new campaign ambassador, 7/7 London bombings survivor Martine Wright.

Premium tea

While a good cup of tea can hit the spot, sometimes a more premium option works best. Speciality tea sales are up by 11% year on year, according to IRI (year to October 30, 2010), while competition from multiple retailers in this sector is also emerging with launches such as Sainsbury’s new range of Taste the Difference fruit and herbal lines that highlight provenance.

Speciality teas may be popular Christmas options as people look to offer more choices to guests, according to Unilever’s industry initiative Partners for Growth, but in January decaffeinated products and fruit/herbal tea sales increase as people undertake New Year resolutions. The fruit and herbal tea sector is now bought by 30% of households. 

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