UK Tea Market

Various estimates put UK tea market in the range of GBP 700-800 mn (2010). The market is estimated to have grown at a healthy 8% between 2008 and 2010, despite the economic slowdown. Few analyst attribute this to increase in prices (because of shortage of supply) rather than increase in consumption. UK tea market is primarily driven by high penetration of tea among aged population, e.g. 88% of population above 65 drink tea, this percentage drops to 73% among younger population (15-34 year old). “Breakfast tea” accounts for close to 90% of sales value is declining as younger generation moves away from tea to other alternatives.

Trends in UK tea market

  1. Prices have risen due to short supply, but the overall consumption has decreased
  2. Black tea still dominates the market but is experiencing sluggish growth.
  3. Herbal and Green tea are gaining grounds. Herbal tea accounted for 12% of overall tea sales in 2010, and has been one of the key growth drivers of UK tea market. Specialty tea such as Assam tea is also increasing in popularity. These types of tea are especially liked by health conscious population.
  4. Most of the tea sales happen through supermarkets / hypermarkets. Tea vending is not popular in UK.
  5. Competition in the UK tea market is high with Unilever and Tetley as key players in the market. UK also has large number of small and unorganized players in the market.

Key players in UK tea Market

  1. Unilever UK (market leader)
  2. Tetley (market leader)
  3. R. Twining & Company
  4. Typhoo Tea Ltd.
  5. Redbush Tea Company
  6. Pukka Herbs Ltd.

Many of the players are now concentrating on herbal / green tea. For example Pukka Herbal, Yogi Tea and Health-E-Teas are focusing on this fast growing niche segment. Another key characteristics of these niche players is online selling which is not the delivery model followed by market leaders such as Unilever and Tetley.

Popular brands in UK tea market:

As black tea dominates the market, most of the popular brands are in that segment. Some popular brands are –

  1. PG Tips (Unilever UK)
  2. Tetley
  3. Twinings
  4. Redbush
  5. Yorkshire
  6. Pukka

Opportunities in UK tea market:

  1. Black tea segment is dominated by large players. Thus opportunity lies in the niche herbal / organic / Green tea segment. This is expected to grow at a fast pace in next 3-5 years. As the market expands, there will be room for players.
  2. Innovation in distribution – niche players can explore internet distribution rather than usual hypermarket / supermarket route. Though retail buying dominates the tea sales, but in future smart internet selling holds promise.