Specialty Tea Industry Heating Up According to New Report

Seattle, WA – March 18, 2004 ---- The demand for specialty tea in the United States has reached record sales levels according to the latest edition of the Tea Is “Hot” Report™ published by Sage Group International. According to the report many conventional tea offerings are battling flat or declining sales and fighting cannibalization from new age drinks, specialty coffee and sparkling water, yet most specialty tea categories are experiencing double-digit growth, primarily in US natural foods supermarkets. “Annual growth of 15% or higher is not uncommon for many specialty tea lines. Specialty tea entrepreneurs are launching hundreds of new beverages, non-beverage tea products, a tea trade show and multi-unit retail outlets,” according to Brian Keating, publisher of the report.

The 5th edition Tea Is “Hot” Report notes the emerging specialty tea industry exhibits many of the same characteristics health food and specialty coffee industries showed when transitioning from fad-to-trend. “The rise in American consumption of specialty tea represents more than a new beverage segment. A loyal tea consuming community is emerging that fuses diverse global cultures, beverage styles and brewing technologies. The new American tea culture places high value on stress reduction, premium quality products and exotic brewing accessories,” noted Keating. Sage Group research suggests much of this consumer interest in specialty tea is being driven by scientific findings linking tea consumption and improved health.

The new report includes detailed specialty tea category quantifications from report contributor SPINS, Inc. (www.spins.com) for chai, green, organic, yerba matè and many other tea types and packaging formats sold through natural foods supermarkets and mass-market distribution channels. Additionally, Mintel’s (www.mintel.com) Global New Products Database contributed detailed quantifications of beverage and non-beverage consumer tea product introductions.

Sage Group forecasts U.S. combined tea sales will top $10 billion by 2010 with a majority of dollar sales being derived from specialty teas. Over the next six years, Sage Group sees a dramatic rise in multi-unit dedicated tea chains (retail / foodservice hybrids) and a boom in use of tea as an ingredient in non-beverage consumer products. “America’s 76 million baby boomers view tea as universally friendly for the entire family. This health-conscious demographic is just starting to explore specialty tea culture through brewed beverages, tea-based skincare products and neighborhood cafes. The potential consumer dollars available for specialty tea purchases over the next decade is significant,” says Keating, whose company has been analyzing the American tea and allied industries for twenty-five years.

The 5th edition Tea Is “Hot” Report contains 275 pages of specialty tea category statistics, interviews with leading experts, and analysis of tea-based intellectual property, science and emerging applications. Additional in-depth coverage of specialty tea types, marketplace opportunities and business resources rounds out the bi-annual trade publication. Tea Is “Hot” Report was the first tea trade report to cover chai, organic tea, functional brewed beverages and many other niche segments within the specialty tea industry. A detailed 5th Ed. Tea Is “Hot” Report table of contents and ordering information is available at www.usteareport.com.

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