Boost for coffee as tea takes a nose dive

Related tags Tea Coffee

A new report suggesting tea is declining in popularity should come as no surprise to pubs cashing in on the UK's growing coffee culture.A report from...

A new report suggesting tea is declining in popularity should come as no surprise to pubs cashing in on the UK's growing coffee culture.

A report from market analyst Mintel shows that tea sales have declined from a total of £707m in 1999 to £623m in 2004. Katy Hilditch, beverages category lead at Nestlé, believes that expanding coffee sales can take the credit - or blame, depending on your perspective.

"Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the UK today," she said. "Last year in the UK, we spent £738m on coffee and drank approximately 70 million cups a day."

Ms Hilditch attributed the growth in coffee sales to the increasing availability of speciality coffees and the refreshment of tried and tested brands in the out of home market.

"The consumer can now walk down the high street and order any type of coffee, in any number of formats and is confident that the experience will meet expectation," she said. Those same consumers now expect the same choice and experience in pubs - and this is a great opportunity for the pub caterer."

Ms Hilditch believes that it's important to get the basic offer right and then experiment with flavours and formats. "Offering cappuccino, latte and mocha is almost a given in the out-of-home market with instant product now available for those unable to invest in expensive kit. But a cup of good quality regular coffee is still a must for lots of people," she said.

"Once your customers are happy with the selection of coffees available, then it's the right time to experiment with frappés or vanilloccinos. Coffee remains a robust market and one that is there for the taking."

However, coffee may not get the market all its own way. The Mintel research also shows a burgeoning market for speciality teas.

While sales of traditional tea bags dropped by 16 per cent between 2002 and 2004, herbal and fruit teas saw a 30 per cent jump over the same period, while sales of varieties such as green tea increased by more than 50 per cent.

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