Tea Consumption Second Only to Packaged Water

DUBAI, UAE

Huzaifa Nalwala

Huzaifa Nalwala has a natural affinity for numbers and a passion for tea.

Combined, they make this senior research consultant one of the more informed experts on global consumption. Last week Nalwala, who works for ManSci Professional Services, presented an in-depth dive into what the world drinks. His presentation was one of several at the 7th Global Dubai Tea Forum, a biennial event attended by 450 tea professionals.

Globally humans drink 1.5 trillion liters of non-alcohol beverages (excluding tap water), a number that will climb to 1.8 trillion liters by 2021, according to Nalwala. On average, healthy individuals drink between 1.5 liters (female) and 2 liters of liquids per day, of which 20 percent is from foods. On average, people have 48 beverage occasions per week. Tea accounts for nearly 10 (9.6) of this share of throat, while coffee (3.9) and carbonated soda (4.6) are less by half. Juices globally account for a 3.5 share of throat and dairy 3.2 share. Bulk water has a 3.7 share and individually packaged water has a 1.3 share that is rising, according to Nanda Kishore Banda, Middle East Trade Marketing Manager for Coca-Cola.

It turns out that when you examine the entire market by volume “from way on high” tea consumption―at 70 billion gallons (266 billion litres)―is well ahead of the world’s prepared beverages. These include coffee, milk, juices, energy and sports drinks, and carbonated beverages. Tea trails only packaged water in share of throat. While individual markets show a range of beverage preferences, tea consumption overall has a larger base and it is growing much faster than coffee.

The International Tea Committee and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) primarily report production in kilos, not liters consumed. This is helpful base data, and essential when considering exports as tea is rarely shipped in bottles due to cost.

Tea volume “is seeing annual growth of 2.8 percent and is expected to be higher in the future. By 2021, there will be an additional 31 billion litres of tea drunk annually,” said Nalwala.

Global per capita consumption of prepared tea currently stands at 35.2 liters. It is one of the few beverage categories expected to grow through 2021. Per capita consumption of carbonated beverages, by comparison, is 30.6 liters and coffee is 21.1 liters. While coffee treads water, rising to 21.5 liters during that period, tea consumption per capita is expected to rise to 37.7 liters by 2021.

Increasing population is the reason. According to the United Nations, the world today is occupied by 7.2 billion people, a number expected to grow to 8.2 billion by 2025. “Tea is experiencing high growth because of its popularity in countries like India and China, which will see expansion because of their huge populations and high growth rates,” Nalwala explained.

Packaged water is experiencing remarkable growth for one simple reason―it saves lives. In the United States, approximately 10–12 people die annually from drinking-water-associated disease outbreaks. Recent numbers show 42 outbreaks and 27 incidents involving environmental contaminates in 29 states. Elsewhere, dirty water kills 5,000 children a day. Nearly 2 million die annually for want of clean water and proper sanitation. The world’s poor pay more for their water than people in Britain or the U.S., according to the United Nations Human Development report. Bottled water is a high priority as 1 in 9 people worldwide don’t have access to safe liquids.

This is why consumption of bottled water is expected to climb by 112 billion liters globally, increasing in terms of liters per capita from 56.4 to 68.3 by 2021. Liquid dairy products will see an increase of 22 billion liters; consumption of carbonated beverages will increase by 20 billion liters. Coffee consumption will increase only 10 billion liters while tea consumption globally is expected to increase by three times more at 31 billion liters.

Mind the Gap

Worldwide there are 25,000 cups of tea consumed every second—about 2.16 billion cups per day. Very soon that will become a problem, according to Managing Director Farhad Pirouz, with dph International gmbh in Köln Germany.

The combination of a population growth, rising urbanization in developing countries, a growing middle class with greater disposable income, and increasing competition between food crops and tea will be compounded by water shortages and climate change leading to a significant shortfall in tea supply, explained Pirouz.

Demand is not going to subside, he said. Pirouz proposes that value addition in the tea industry, both in producing and consuming countries, will ease and possibly eliminate a shortfall with current supply. This is because much is wasted when brewing loose leaf tea. Instead of 1.8 grams in a typical teabag, consumers throughout much of the world use twice that amount.

He presented case studies with production estimates from Iran, Germany, and India to make his point.

“Dosing is saving!” he emphasized. Dosing results in reduce volume and higher value per cup of tea. Earnings will increase for exports, and convenience and hygienic consumption deliver both a macro-economic growth and a micro-economic growth, said Pirouz.

“To meet the growing demand, with a growing population and a predicted decrease in tea production,” said Pirouz, “is it wiser to (a) invest in increasing production or (b) invest in improving the infrastructure adding value to the supply chain?”