A national obsession

TAP water is the only drink consumed more often in Britain than tea, says the team behind Unilever’s convenience store merchandising advice service, Partners for Growth.

Only China, India and Ireland consume more tea per head. In the UK 96% of all tea is made from teabags.

sh teabag brewing in cup Jan 16

Nick Widdowson, Unilever UK merchandising and creative controller said: “Tea drinking remains a national obsession, with as many as 165m cups consumed nationwide every day.”

The market is now worth £654m in total, more than £80m of that is sold through from convenience stores and that, he said, makes tea a must stock product for small retailers.

Unilever’s tea category director Faye Newman said: “There is a big opportunity for retailers to offer a range tailored to suit their location and shopper profile.

“In affluent areas, look to offer more choice, with two or three more lines of fruit and herbal or green teas.

“In less affluent areas, focus more on the core bestselling normal teas.”

Unilever’s research suggests normal tea accounts for about 72% of tea sales overall and the proportion is higher in c-stores.

Widdowson said: “Normal tea represents approximately 80% of tea sales in convenience, so focus on this area primarily but, with fruit and herbal teas now a mainstay of people’s repertoire, retailers should also consider including them.”

He said green, fruit and herbal teas offer a growth opportunity as they are usually bought in addition to normal tea or coffee and that shoppers buying them often buy a variety of herbal teas for different health benefits.

And he stressed: “Tea is a key distress purchase – people do not want to run out.”