Market Researchers Document Tea Industry Expansion

The numbers continue to look good.

Tea consumption in the U.S. has risen to 412 grams per person, tea manufacturing in the U.S. will soon top $1 billion and market researchers predict that tea industry growth globally will "rise substantially" through 2017.

In their latest report, California-based Global Industry Analysts estimates the volume of hot coffee and tea beverages will reach 11.25 million tons by 2017.

Demand for hot beverages globally is “driven by increasing affluence of consumers, robust promotional activity, and higher per capita consumption levels, which is more pronounced in developing economies,” according to GIA. In  “Hot Beverages (Coffee and Tea): A Global Strategic Business Report” GIA predicts “demand for tea is set to rise substantially given the increasing popularity of the beverage worldwide owing to health benefits attached to the beverage.”

The report was released this week.

Independent of that assessment, Los Angeles-based industry research firm IBISWorld released its latest “Tea Production Industry” report which estimates annual growth greater than 3 percent for the 39 manufacturers included in the study. The report excludes ready-to-drink and iced tea manufacturing. Manufacturers surveyed include Hain Celestial, Bigelow, Yogi and Unilever (Lipton). Employment was estimated at 1,472.

“The Tea Production industry is beginning to come into its own,” according to IBISWorld. Revenue from blending and packaging of dry tea will increase at an annualized rate of 3.1 percent to total $987 million in the five years to 2012.  “Revenue is expected to grow at a slower rate of 1.8 percent in 2012. Helping to drive the industry's growth is an increased emphasis on healthy living and changing consumer dietary patterns.,” according to IBISWorld.

"Backed by the scientific community, tea manufacturers are marketing the various health benefits of tea consumption, especially tea's effect on lowering cholesterol," says IBISWorld industry analyst Agata Kaczanowska. In particular, herbal teas are experiencing substantial success on the market as consumers increasingly use them for at-home medicinal remedies. Additionally, as Americans have become more health-conscious, they have looked for alternatives to sugar-rich carbonated beverages, said Kaczanowska.

“Aggressive media promotion by brands such as Lipton and Celestial Seasonings has strengthened consumers' belief in the health benefits of tea consumption. Companies are also expanding their range of flavors, ensuring there is a taste for nearly everyone, and they are investing in media exposure, which has been a successful strategy. As a result of these marketing techniques, per capita tea consumption has grown from 0.89 pounds per person in 2007 to 0.91 pounds per person in 2012,” according to IBISWorld.

Manuja Peiris, who presides over the International Tea Committee in London, says  "to even things out over a period ITC calculates consumption on a three-year average."  Consumption during the years 2008-08 was 370 gramsand in 2009-11 it rose to 391 grams.

"If one looks at the 2011 data alone, it will be 412 grams (14.5 ounces)," he said. Consumption in Turkey and Middle Eastern countires and some European countries such as Ireland top 2,000 grams (4.5 pounds). Russia, Poland and New Zealand tea drinkers consume about 1000 grams (2 pounds). Per capita consumption of a little less than a pound places U.S. tea drinkers in the lower third of the 72 countries tallied.

The 750-page GIA report is a broader measure of consumption with an analysis of 297 companies including Kraft Foods, Nestle SA, Starbucks Coffee Co., Strauss Group Ltd., Tata Global Beverages, Tata Tetley Ltd., Maxingvest AG, Unilever and Van Houtte, Inc.

Demand for tea is on the rise worldwide and green tea is experiencing the fastest growth, according to GIA.

“The Green Tea segment has gained popularity with introduction of different flavors such as green lemon, green decaf and pure green. The economic crisis has boosted the sales of low priced varieties of green tea,” according GIA’s researchers. Globally the herbal and fruit teas segment was not buoyant and registered a fall in value and volume sales, according to GIA.

“With the young generation entering the tea segment, players are coming up with innovative variants of tea. RTD (ready-to-drink) tea continues to witness substantial growth owing to the perceived health benefits offered by the product. RTD tea grew faster than soft drinks segment in 2008, due to diminishing popularity of carbonated drinks among affluent consumers. The industry is expected to witness growth in countries such as Latin America and Russia, due to increased health consciousness among affluent sections of the society. The industry is also expected to benefit from the increase in per capita consumption in Asia-Pacific region. “

Niche players have had some significant opportunities to serve increasingly fragmented consumer needs, such as the specialty and gourmet segment, according to the IBISWorld report.

Companies such as Rishi Tea, which specializes in wellness and exotic teas, have been steadily increasing their share of the market, according to researchers. “The product lines of the major brands typically comprise mid- to low-value, high-volume branded products. Given the high brand value of these products, these players enjoy a high degree of loyalty and familiarity from their consumers.

“Smaller players tend to focus on niche markets, supplying specialty products that are of high value and margins but have shorter production runs and, hence, lower volumes.

“The Tea Production industry's future is bright,” concludes IBISWorld. “America's aging population, which embraces tea's antiaging and health attributes, will be a strong source of future demand and will drive sales of specialty products, especially for green and herbal teas. In addition, the emphasis on innovation and new product introductions will further stimulate demand over the next five years. Though the major brands will remain dominant, IBISWorld forecasts the industry to become less concentrated as small specialized tea producers continue to sprout up nationwide.”

Sources: Global Industry Analysts and International Business Information Systems (IBISW).