As we enter the period of the new norm, the role of wholesalers in helping stores to recognise trends in the market and advising on the right selection of hot beverages stocks is essential.

Manufacturers’ role is to ensure that wholesalers are able to fulfil their customers’ needs providing them with the stocks they need to ensure demands can be met and to work in partnership to help support sales and category growth.

A good partnership with manufacturers can be a real benefit. Tetley has a team dedicated to the wholesale channel to help guide depot managers on the best ways to stimulate sales and benefit from the growth areas in tea.

“By sharing our knowledge and understanding with our customers we are working to affect positive change in the tea market,” comments Parminder Walia, Category Development Manager, Tata. “Materials to market new teas and highlight margins to be made on RSP for different teas; high impact visual tools; marketing strategies and plans for optimum layouts for single and multiple bays; and separate plans for caterers and other out of home locations form the backbone of our support programme.”

There are strong opportunities in tea. The challenge is to keep pace with changing tastes and what drives purchase and use this knowledge to adapt your tea range.

“Getting it right can result in greater sales and profits in tea and benefit sales in other categories too,” adds Walia. “To benefit sales across all channels, it’s important to dedicate an area for foodservice customers, this is a large and varied customer sector which is becoming more active so increase the range of teas offered here.”

After the surge in stock up buying of tea in the early days of lock down last year, tea sales have returned to more normal patterns, but last year’s anomalous sales patterns mean year on year comparisons are difficult to make.

The volume of tea bought, and frequency of purchase have both risen yoy, up 2.4% and 3.8% respectively. Tetley continues to have the greatest number of buyers and household penetration of all tea brands (Kantar).

Within core grocery, value sales of total tea have fallen slightly by 0.7%, but wellbeing sectors like fruit & herbal; speciality; decaf and redbush are all showing positive growth.

With data annually lapping the sales spikes at the height of the pandemic, both convenience and impulse show a decline in total tea sales. Total Scotland however bucks the trend, with volume tea sales in the 12 weeks to 19 June 21 up 4.3% and up 0.1% in value (Nielsen).

Within impulse, the growing interest in wellbeing teas seen in the multiples is reflected with volume sales of fruit and herbals up 2.6% and decaf teas up 1.1% (Nielsen).

The popularity of these sectors is reflected in total Scotland too, with volume sales of fruit & herbals up 6.3%, decaf up 9.2%, redbush up 9.5% and speciality up 3.4% (Nielsen).

“Tea shoppers tend to be habitual and brand loyal, so it makes sense to bring attention to the big sellers,” says Walia. “Recognising and reflecting regional differences is important here.”

It makes sense to keep on top of the best sellers in tea and regional differences. In Scotland for instance Tetley is by far the dominant brand with 43.5% volume share, followed by Unilever’s Scottish Blend in the number two slot with 11.7% volume share (Nielsen).

Tapping into a key consumer desire to start and energise the day with a healthy beverage, Tetley is mirroring the journey consumers are taken on in the coffee category and making the trade up journey in black tea much more explicit to shoppers.

First up is the introduction of new look packs of its classic teas, Tetley English Breakfast and Tetley Earl Grey 50s designed to highlight the provenance and quality of the tea blends more clearly.

Tetley Earl Grey 50s in particular have performed strongly yoy, with volume sales up 31.6% in the multiples, up 70.9% in convenience 78.6% in impulse.

The stand-out new design packs will begin to appear on shelf in selected multiples from the summer with an RSP of £2.29.

Before the Autumn chills set in, Tetley will add another classic to this line up, Tetley Gold Brew with an RSP of £2.85 for 75 bags, Tetley Gold Brew is a sophisticated blend of the finest African and Assam teas and will be available to Nisa and Spar.

Fiachra Moloney, General Manager Tea UK&I at Unilever, comments: “We’ve been working towards making the switch to a fully plant-based product for several years. This journey has not been without its challenges, and we’ve had to adapt along the way to ensure we weren’t compromising on the great taste we are known for.

“As the nation’s largest producer of tea bags, we knew it was our responsibility to lead the way when it comes to helping people make more sustainable choices. Fast forward to today and we’ve made huge progress. We are now proud to say that we have fully transitioned to a plant-based range, complete with biodegradable tea bags and wrapless boxes across our entire retail range.”

This transition has already made an impact, with a massive 757 tonnes of oil-based plastic saved from using biodegradable tea bags and 46 tonnes of plastic saved from the overwrap being removed.

“With shoppers now five times more likely to buy sustainable products, there’s a clear demand for a cuppa that not only tastes good but does good for the planet,” adds Moloney. “The transition to a fully plant-based range will help retailers meet demand and help to grow the category. We’ve also made it even easier for customers to make greener choices, with clear messaging of the biodegradable tea bags on the front and back of the box.”

Aidan Ledger, Head of New Business OOH at Twinings Foodservice, comments: “Trends are changing, there’s a focus on health and wellbeing, on experiences and on playing our part in looking after the environment. Alternative milks are booming, vitamin and mineral sales are increasing and the Covid pandemic has brought mental health to the fore. This reflects in our choices of food and drink. Caffeine free options are increasing in popularity, and tea in particular can be enhanced with vitamins and minerals, offering intense flavours that are not the traditional tea bag in a cup of hot water with milk.”

The new foodservice-exclusive range of large leaf pyramids from Twinings dials up the health and wellness focus, with infusions that are good for the mind, body and planet. As the No. 1 brand of choice for consumers out of home (Allegra), Twinings has just launched a range of 11, exclusive, foodservice only pyramids that tap into the latest trends and cover 97% of consumer flavour needs. This versatility allows an operator to create a real theatre with tea, especially at lunchtime when customers may want to experience something a little different.

Within the new range are 6 brand new teas that deliver, not only on flavour, but also on experience. Whether guests want a fruity green tea or a hit of raspberry and vitamin C (contains 75% of daily vitamin C requirements), operators can also ensure that the tea experience goes above and beyond expectations by serving the options as per the Twinings menu suggestions. On a damp and dismal day, customers can indulge in a soothing Honey and Rooibos oat latte, and Twinings are encouraging venues to consider new serving experiences such as iced Strawberry and Green Tea with Elderflower presse. As well as a revamped range of Twinings classic teas such as All Day Decaf, The Earl and Full English, there are a range of new recipes available to encourage operators to up their tea game and offer something a little different on their tea menu.

Hannah Morris, Category Team Leader, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, comments: “With over 24 million households in the UK buying coffee, the category has a clear significance, with an ever-growing demand for great taste and a diverse range of coffee styles. Over 61% of coffee shop consumers look for their favourite café blends to drink at home. Many of the coffee trends in retail have been driven by demand in Out of Home coffee consumption, as consumers look to recreate their favourite coffee-shop style beverages from the comfort of their own homes.”

The flavours category has become an increasingly popular in the coffee market in recent years, with many consumers looking for unique flavours to suit their tastes. Flavours, such as Salted Caramel, make up a hugely important segment within specialties category which is growing at +11% RSV MAT (Nielsen). By tapping into trends and allowing consumers to create additional theatre to their coffee at home, as they would get in a coffee shop, allows retailers to ensure they continue to meet and exceed the demand of their shoppers.

Kenco Duo allows consumers to enjoy a coffee-shop style drink at home and recreate that signature magic swirl, all without the need for a coffee machine. Kenco has successfully tapped into the wider market trend as at-home consumers have been seeking to replicate their favourite coffee shop. Kenco specialities have particularly benefited from this trend and have seen double-digit value sales growth of +87% in the MA (Nielsen) for Kenco Duo. To further capitalise on the flavours trend, Kenco’s new Salted Caramel Latte Duo recently joined the hugely popular pre-existing Duo range including: Latte, Flat White, Sweetened and Unsweetened Cappuccino.

There has been a strong rise in single-serve coffee, demonstrating 20% value sales growth, reaching 20% share of total coffee sales (Nielsen).

“It is essential to get your range and offering right to make the most from the overall hot beverage category,” says Morris. “The use of block merchandising is a simple yet effective way of helping shoppers find what they need easily. Grouping related category products together such as tea, coffee and sugars/sweeteners creates a clear and effective shopping journey. As well as signposting both the category and leading brands like Kenco.” “It is also key that retailers respond to consumer and market trends to ensure they are maximising the full sales opportunity that coffee currently offers,” Morris continues. “As the category becomes more sophisticated, there is significant opportunity to further increase basket size and spend across multiple complementary categories.”

“Good prices and relevant promotions, as well as a convenient location for quick and easy purchases can all drive coffee shoppers to the channel,” adds Morris. “Independent retailers should consider implementing relevant promotions and POS around their store for quick and easy purchases, driving coffee sales.”

In recent years, price marked packs have proven popular with top-up and impulse shoppers. Kenco has recently introduced PMPs for its Kenco Duo Cappuccino and Latte variants, to provide retailers with products that consumers are seeking when shopping in the impulse channel.

The top advantage of price marked packs is that they are seen to provide clarity and transparency about the product’s price. Around half (48%) of convenience store shoppers now like price-marked packs, so these new products from Kenco are timely (IGD). The addition of price marked Kenco Duo will not only help drive retailer sales, but help drive premiumisation within the at-home coffee category. PMPs also deliver a strong on-shelf message, which Kenco aims to attract new consumers with.

Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelez International, comments: “Over the past year, with consumers spending more time at home, we have seen an increase in shoppers looking for the perfect treat to share with others in their households. In particular, consumers are looking for products from trusted brands, such as Cadbury, which deliver on quality and taste.”

Within the hot beverages market, Cadbury offers a comprehensive range – with products tapping into the Drinking Chocolate, Instant Chocolate and Cocoa sub-categories.

Cadbury Hot Chocolate, the UK’s number one hot chocolate brand (Nielsen), launched its first ever reduced sugar variant last year to tap into the health and wellbeing trend. This innovation offers the hot chocolate taste shoppers know and love with 30% less sugar.

Available in 280g jars and with no artificial sweeteners, Cadbury Hot Chocolate Reduced Sugar is prepared by swirling into hot milk for a unique lower sugar hot chocolate drinking experience.

As a category leader, the Cadbury brand is perfectly positioned to bring consumers this great-tasting lower sugar option. Reducing sugar is the second biggest priority for shoppers who are looking to improve their diet (ShopperVista), so this innovation is driving incremental sales for retailers by bringing new shoppers into hot chocolate.


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