Tea vendors make strong showing at Canada Coffee & Tea Show

TORONTO, Ontario

The tea was flowing at Canada’s largest coffee and tea show this week. Tea sales topped $213 million last year with herbals showing the biggest gains, according to Nielsen MarketTrack research.

Tea vendors from across Canada and some overseas ventures traveled to the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario Sept. 8-9 for the annual event that included workshops, tastings and demonstrations.

Tea is the fifth most popular beverage in Canada where residents drank 20 million kilos last year, up from 13 million in 1991. About 46% of Canadians drink tea weekly with 13% daily drinkers and a per capita consumption of .49 just under one half pound. Americans drink .29 pounds of tea per person.

Nielsen MarketTrack estimates total Canadian beverage sales at $4.9 billion with gains in RTD tea and hot beverages. Sales of RTD teas were up 9% last year and sales of herbal teas (not including Rooibos) were up 2% in grocery and mass market outlets.  In Canada 58% percent of households purchased tea last year and 44% of households purchase specialty tea.

Louise Roberge, President of the Canadian Tea Association offered an update from research conducted by the NPD Group on behalf of the association. Full details are available at www.tea.ca

Roberge also awarded Judy Lin the top prize for identifying the origin of all 10 teas in the “So You Think You Can Be a Sommelier Contest.”

Sameer Pruthee, founder of Tea Affair in Calgary, Alberta lectured a crowded room of tea vendors on the art of blending.  Shabnam Weber taught Tasting 101 to an equally enthusiastic group who slurped from tasting spoons several flights of green and black teas. Weber is co-founder of The Tea Emporium, in Toronto.

The show floor featured a number of Canadian tea vendors including Montreal-based Four O’Clock; Basilur Tea Canada; A Cup of Chai in Brampton, Ont.; Sloane Tea Co. in Toronto; Bistro Tea in Markham, Ont. and Winnipeg-based CTC Brewt Corp. with several U.S. based firms including Los Angeles-based QTrade Tea & Herbs, Mighty Leaf, a San Francisco company with offices in Montreal, Que., and AOI Tea Co., in Huntington Beach, Calif.

New to the scene are Riston Tea, a Sri Lanka brand with an office in Richmond, Ont.,  and Alokozay Tea based in Dubai, UAE with offices in Mississauga, Ont.

The show hosts the annual Canadian Barista Championship. This year’s winner is Jeremy Ho representing Phil & Sebastian, Calgary.

Kyle Wilson, 26, said he exhibited at the show in preparation for the Oct. 1 launch of Beanlink.me, an online service for coffee lovers “looking to take their relationship to the next level.” Roasters and adventurous consumers are very creative, sharing a connection over fine coffee that is not unlike music or art, he explains. His booth was crowded both days with attendees attracted to his vintage Volkswagen Camper. Bean Link is a subscription online buying service that helps like-minded coffee lovers connect.

"This year's show had the best attended coffee and tea education sessions we have ever had,” said Russell Hoffman, General Manager of Fulcrum Media, owners of the Canadian Coffee & Tea Show. "We had more than 300 companies represented on the show floor and just under 2000 attendees."

It was great to see more chain buyers than ever before looking to expand their tea (and coffee) offerings, said Hoffman. "There was a real sense from attendees that a great tea (or coffee) offering has become table stakes and attendees were all looking to build on their present offerings."

The Canada Coffee & Tea Show will be in Vancouver, British Columbia next year.