Twinings, for the first time in the UK, overtook long-time market leader PG Tips in the 12 months ending in July, according to Nielsen market research, an indication of the continuing national decline of black tea consumption.
Black tea remains the favored hot beverage with tea drinkers in 72% of UK households but Unilever-owed PG Tips [viewed as a commodity blend like Unilever’s Lipton Yellow Label] saw a decline in value of 7.2% to $122.7 million (£98.7 million) compared to $134.2 million (£107.9m) in sales of Twinings teas.
Nielsen collects data from grocery, supermarkets and mass merchandisers. The numbers do not account for foodservice sales.
Twinings is viewed as the more premium brand with recent introductions of its Superblends and a line of Cold In’fuse cold brewed teas launched last year. Two two-calorie In’fuse teabags and health-inspired Superblends boosted sales by $13 million (£10.5 million), according to a report in The Sun.
Yorkshire Tea came third with sales rising by 5% to $121 million (£97.6m), according to Nielsen data.
PG Tips has responded to declines with promotions reinforcing its sustainability, “with great taste comes great sustainability” reads a Rainforest Alliance themed campaign. In addition, the company has committed to going 100% biodegradable tea bags.
The brand remains a favorite, ranking No. 1 by number of users with 7.1 million fans in 2018 but the number of users has fallen from 9 million since 2013, according to Kantar Media (UK). Kantar reported that in 2018 Twinings had 3.8 million users. Yorkshire Tea was named by 5.8 million that year. All three are better known for their black tea. Tea drinkers in the UK are switching to green tea and herbals, a worldwide trend expected to increase revenue to $9 billion by 2024, according to Market Research Future.
The Grocer mentioned: “Diversifying into areas reminiscent of chilly infusions and practical teas has paid off for Twining, which gained practically £4 million. In the meantime, PG Ideas slumped beneath the £100 million mark because it bore the brunt of the black tea decline.”
British tea drinkers consumed nearly 870 million fewer cups of tea last year “but the tea market was saved from a similar slump in value as Brits turned to pricier premium teas and fruit or herbal blends. Kantar Worldpanel data shows the value of tea has risen by 0.6% to $831.7 million (£669.2m) over the past year,” according to The Grocer.