Convenience World looks at the latest Australian and international trends.
Health platform boosts iced tea market
Despite ready-to-drink (RTD) or iced teas attracting increasing levels of interest in recent years, the beverages accounted for a modest 7.5 per cent share of global soft-drink launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in 2014.
Developments included the launch of more sophisticated products in relatively established markets, such as the US, and the move to more mainstream initiatives in underdeveloped markets, such as the UK.
According to Innova Market Insights Director of Innovation Lu Ann Williams, growth can be largely attributed to the consumer search for alternatives to sugar-rich carbonated beverages, alongside increasing emphasis on the health properties of tea.
“More than 62 per cent of global iced tea launches made at least one health claim of some kind, rising to more than 88 per cent in the US,” she said. “Tea’s use as an added flavour or functional ingredient has also become increasingly common in other soft drinks, such as fruit drinks and enhanced waters, raising awareness and drawing new consumers into the market.”
The US canned and bottled tea market is well established and led by brands such as AriZona, Lipton and Snapple. Ambient lines are now increasingly competing with refrigerated or chilled tea drinks, while the leading brands have had to focus on maintaining interest via new product activity and promotional activity. An example of this is AriZona launching a novel range of Oak Brewed Tea in 2014, made with black tea aged in oak barrels.
In Europe, companies have long struggled to get RTD teas into the UK market. Consumers traditionally brew their own tea and drink it hot, and interest in recent years has focused more on rising consumption of green tea. The focus on taste and health refreshment appears to be having slightly more success among younger consumers, with levels of new product activity rising.
Iced tea is slightly more established in continental Europe and is mainly available in canned format, although the use of bottles is rising, with a number of chilled milk-based tea lines in lidded cups also available.
Interest in the German iced tea market was also reflected in the launch of flavoured water drinks featuring tea from Lichtenauer under Fresh’n FruiTEA – fruit drinks featuring white tea from the Hohes C fruit drink brand, and the test-marketing of Italy’s leading bottled iced tea, Estathé from Ferrero, in selected test regions.
Elsewhere on the market, there is also a focus on calorie reduction, featuring low-calorie and reduced-sugar launches. Stevia sweeteners have been used for a number of products, including Little Miracles’ Rooibos Tea, Elderflower, Ginger, Ginseng, Agave drink and Virtue Ice Tea drinks.
Alternative products featuring rooibos, matcha and kombucha are also increasingly in evidence, while a number of bubble tea drinks featuring green teas and fruit teas have also been introduced.