AUSTIN, Texas—U.S. tea sales increased by 5.9 percent in 2013 and will likely continue to rise as consumers increasingly seek affordable, safe ways to enhance their personal wellness and self-care regiments, according to a new report published in the current issue of the American Botanical Council (ABC’s) HerbalEGram.
The 5.9-percent sales increase in 2013 comprises the categories of loose, bagged, concentrated, and herbal tea in the United States; total sales in these categories hit more than $1.75 billion. Ready-to-drink (RTD) tea sales in the U.S. remained relatively flat at just over $2.38 billion, a small decrease of approximately 0.36 percent from 2012 sales. Based on available figures, 2014 is expected to be a banner year for both brewed and RTD tea sales.
Tea is the world’s second most-consumed beverage after water. According to ABC’s new report, growing demand for tea in the United States is being driven by three primary factors: health and wellness trends, positive media coverage and an evolving retail landscape. For nine consecutive years, sales of carbonated soda beverages have fallen as consumers become more conscious of healthier alternatives. Even fruit juices, because of their high natural sugar content, have recently experienced a backlash. Consistent media coverage is delivering a stream of positive news on the research validating health benefits of tea (Camellia sinensis) consumption—particularly green tea—that is helping to educate and motivate consumers to choose tea.
Further, thousands of independent and multi-unit tea retail outlets are expanding nationwide, offering greater consumer access to finer-quality specialty teas. In 2012, global specialty coffee leader Starbucks invested 620 million dollars in its acquisition of Teavana—the largest North American retail tea chain.
The HerbalEGram tea market report is based on sales data from the mainstream multi-outlet, natural, and specialty/gourmet channels supplied by SPINS. The numbers do not include tea sales from food-service settings including restaurants, cafés, delis and similar establishments. Additionally, sales from a number of other tea distribution channels are not assessed by any single entity, including mail order, online, network marketing, Whole Foods Market, and thousands of independent specialty tea shops. If those sales numbers were available and included, the report estimates total U.S. tea sales for 2013 could be in excess of $15 billion.
Among loose, bagged and concentrated teas in 2013, black tea (C. sinensis) bags continued their dominant trend. Loose iced teas and powder tea mixes followed, succeeded by green and white tea (C. sinensis) bags, herbal beverage tea bags and medicinal tea bags.
The top five herbs in 2013 in the U.S. medicinal tea (bag) sector were, respectively, chamomile (Matricaria recutita), senna (Senna alexandrina), ginger (Zingiber officinale), echinacea (Echinacea spp.), and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). In the 2013, U.S. herbal beverage tea (bag) category, top-selling primary herbs were chamomile, mints (Mentha spp.), ginger, valerian (Valeriana officinalis), and açaí (Euterpe oleracea). SPINS defines “medicinal teas" as all medicinal teas with one or more medicinal ingredient, often marketed with a structure-function claim, or strongly associated with a health focus.
“Herbal beverage" tea refers to single or blended beverage infusions formulated with various combinations of fruits, spices, herbs, and C. sinensis not marketed with any health-related claim; they are considered conventional foods in a regulatory sense.
“Growth in the tea market parallels the growth in the herbal supplement market, indicating continued interest by millions of American consumers in tea and other herbal beverages and their associated health benefits," said ABC founder and executive director Mark Blumenthal.
In September, ABC released new research on climate change and phytochemical compounds in tea, which shows the chemistry, taste and health effects of tea can vary with changes in climate.