Tea Association Debates Tea Minimums for RTD Beverages

NEW YORK CITY, NY

Last year Campbell Soup Company launched the spectacularly successful V8 V-Fusion + Tea, a bottled beverage that grossed $10 million on volume of 141,499,680 gallons to overtake Sobe and make Campbell one of the top 25 of tea marketers in less than a year.

But is it tea?

This week the Tea Association of the USA met to establish guideline on how much tea a product must contain to be considered tea.

Campbell’s three-flavor line, available in Raspberry Green Tea, Pomegranate Green Tea and Pineapple Mango Green Tea, comes in 8-oz. servings and provides vegetables and fruit and is promoted as having “the antioxidants of green tea.”

This hybrid mainly contains ¼ cup of vegetable and ¼ cup of fruit.fruit juice. Is the amount of tea sufficient to merit the health claims associated with green tea?

Dale Clemiss, Vice President, V8 Beverages told market researcher Packaged Facts. “People can now feel good about drinking a combined serving of vegetables and fruit powered naturally by green tea.”

A website FAQ states: Yes, V8 V-Fusion + Tea contains caffeine — less than the amount found in a cup of tea. Green tea extract, an ingredient of V8 V-Fusion + Tea, naturally contains caffeine.

EMBED: http://v8juice.org/faq_v8fusion.aspx

On Monday the Tea Association’s board of directors discussed the threshold.

The proposed guidelines “identify minimally what should be in a RTD Tea Product in order for it to be called tea,” says Tea Association President Joe Simrany.

“Once the Board approves the guideline, it will be widely circulated to both member and non-member companies for comments/reactions. Once those comments have been accumulated and assessed, the guideline will become the "law" of the land and the Tea Association will put forth its best efforts to "enforce" it,” he says.

“We anticipate that this will not happen until January 2013 at the earliest as it is critically important to give the industry an opportunity to fix any potential problems which they may have,” Simrany says.

“The guideline is very important as the industry is vulnerable to negative publicity should a consumer advocacy group decide to survey the marketplace to determine the amount of tea in these products,” says Simrany.

“The Association itself is on solid ground as, when questioned by the media, we always say for maximum health benefits; steep the tea yourself,” he says.

Regarding RTD tea, even if there are fewer healthy components than made at home tea, it remains a better option than many other beverage options such as soft drinks, says Simrany.

On Tuesday he said “the Board has not yet authorized further distribution or communications of the Tea Association of the USA RTD Guidelines.”

Although RTD tea is a relatively small category in soft drinks, it is experiencing the most rapid RTD volume growth of any soft drink category, and is projected to continue to do so in the future. It is moving from a niche category to the mainstream worldwide, according to Euromonitor International’s latest report on RTD tea.

In America RTD has a strong footing. Sales topped $4 billion in all sales channels in 2010. RTD canned and bottled tea continues to be the largest category both by sales and by volume, according to Tea and Ready-to-Drink Tea in the U.S, a report issued by Packaged Facts in October.

“This growth has been sparked primarily by two categories – refrigerated tea, which grew a whopping 17 percent, and RTD canned and bottled tea, which grew 5.8 percent in food, drug and mass market outlets. Leaf tea, in its bagged and loose forms, grew a more modest 2.1 percent,” according to the report.

In the RTD tea category, the top selling brands are Honest Tea, Guayaki, Tazo Tea, Sweet Leaf, and Teas’ Tea.

An Experian Simmons National Consumer Survey in 2010 showed 51.8 million or 45 percent of the nation’s 115.2 million households have ready to drink cold tea in the home.

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Dan Bolton

About Dan Bolton

Dan Bolton edits STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International. He was formerly editor and publisher of World Tea News and former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine and former editor-in-chief of Specialty Coffee Retailer. He is a beverage retail consultant and frequent speaker at industry seminars and conferences. His work has appeared in many beverage publications. He was a newspaper reporter and editor for 20 years prior to his career in magazines. Dan is the founding editor of Natural Food magazine and has led six publishing ventures since 1995. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada.