Tea concentrates are a growing trend in tea products, as Persistence Market Research reports the global tea concentrates market is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 4.1% from 2018 to 2028. Two prominent tea producing companies, Unilever and ITO EN, have both recently released new tea concentrates.
According to Persistence Market Research, tea concentrates are essentially concentrated tea brews that get diluted for preparation to serve. Tea concentrates offer a convenient means for various types of foodservice establishments that may not have tea brewing equipment to provide tea for large numbers of customers. The growing demand for tea provides an incentive for foodservice establishments to have tea available for customers; and tea concentrates offer ease in terms of shipping, storage and preparation.
Furthermore, tea concentrates are available in an increasing variety of flavors, giving foodservice establishments more options to offer to customers.
Judith Zethof, Marketing Director of Unilever Food Solutions, North America, said regarding tea concentrates, “It’s a solution that is very easy to prepare, so you don’t need a trained staff to do it. It really takes very little time. You can offer a lot of variety and exciting flavors without the more difficult solutions—like fresh brewed iced tea in a bulk format.”
TAZO Tea Concentrates were developed by Steven Smith, and then the TAZO brand was sold to Starbucks in 1999. Unilever acquired TAZO from Starbucks in November 2017. In May 2019, Unilever announced the availability of TAZO Tea Concentrates for restaurants across North America. Prior to the acquisition, TAZO tea concentrates were available primarily in Starbucks cafes and in limited distribution; and Unilever chose to make the tea concentrates available to all foodservice operators. Now, the concentrates can be purchased from distributors and online at https://www.unileverfoodsolutions.us/.
This move on Unilever’s part reflects the consumer demand for more tea options on menus. “For example, the matcha latte is really growing on menus for operators, so we want to give them a quick and easy solution to prepare this product in restaurants, in bars, in cafes, in hotels,” Zethof said. Unilever offers concentrated lattes and iced teas. TAZO originally offered a Chai Latte Concentrate, and Unilever added to the chai collection with the addition of the Skinny Chai and Decaf Chai in May 2019. They also launched their Green Tea Matcha Latte that month. A Pumpkin Spice Latte will be a seasonal offering in Autumn. In terms of iced teas, they offer bulk green tea and black tea, both with and without sugar, Peachy Green Tea and Passion Tea.
“[Tea concentrates] offer a very important role in the tea portfolio,” said Zethof, and added they are ideal for establishments that want to work with smaller batches and have limited staff but still want to offer variety. The tea concentrates can also be used in tea cocktails and mocktails and can be incorporated into cooking. In this sense, each restaurant can customize the tea concentrates to its liking and one product can be used for several different menu items.
Robert Wallauer, Corporate Chef at Unilever Food Solutions, said, “[Tea concentrates] really do allow for the operators to have a lot of fun and drive a really profitable component of their menu. [Tea concentrates] allow them to create a premium drink for not a whole lot of cost or labor.”
Unilever will continue to track consumer trends, such as flavors and functional ingredients, when considering product development with the intention of offering business operators easy solutions to upgrading and diversifying their menus with items that are on trend, noted Zethof.
ITO EN is also on trend with its recent debut of its new Matcha Love Green Tea Concentrate, which launched at the Summer Fancy Food Show New York in June. The convenient format eliminates the need for a matcha bowl and whisk, yet people can still experience the health benefits of matcha.
“We created an operationally friendly way to incorporate matcha into any menu, whether for food service or for home use” said Rona Tison, executive vice president of corporate relations for ITO EN (North America) INC. “The no fuss preparation makes matcha recipes approachable and more efficient in high volume operations. Using our tea expertise, we made sure we did not compromise in taste or flavor, nor the quality of the matcha powder.”