Global demand for tea is benefiting from a new clientele, a new report said, adding that young urban consumers in large producing countries like China and India had emerged as the fastest growing segment of tea drinkers.
They are eager not only to pay a premium for specialty teas, but also curious to know more about the product they consume – its quality, origin and contribution to sustainable development.
According to the report by the Inter-governmental Group on Tea, young, upper-middle class consumers are looking for fashionable products to be integrated into their lifestyles, which now also includes gourmet quality tea, and consuming them in the sophisticated environments of specialty teashops and exclusive restaurants, hotels and cafés.
The report said that while world tea consumption has increased over the last decade, traditional importing European countries, with the exception of Germany, have seen a decline in consumption levels.
“Overall, the European tea market is largely saturated. Per capita consumption has been declining for more than a decade, facing competition from other beverages, particularly bottled water, the report said.
Over the next decade, Western countries in general are expected to see lower consumption growth. In the UK, for instance, tea consumption is projected to decrease as black tea struggles to maintain consumers’ interest amid increased competition from other beverages, including coffee.
The report argues that the decline in tea consumption in the traditional European markets could be stalled or even reversed by diversifying into other segments, such as organic and specialty teas, and by promoting their health and wellbeing benefits.
The strategy of promoting the health benefits of tea has also proved effective for other markets. For example, loose-leaf tea is seeing new growth in the United States, not least as a result of increased public health consciousness.