The new program is a part of the company’s broader strategy to offer a high-quality tea program for the foodservice channel at every price point and venue.
“Tea is a hot growth menu category for food service operators,” CEO Sheila Stanziale told BeverageDaily. “That really wasn’t true even five years ago.”
Tea serves as a high-margin menu item and can act as a base for other hot or iced beverages, Stanziale said.
Premiumization of tea
The demand for premium hot tea in the food service sector is growing rapidly with tea outperforming coffee and other hot drinks by 3% in total volume growth in 2015, driven by growing consumer sophistication, according to Euromonitor.
“Tea is just of remarkable interest right now in the food service environment and it’s premiumizing,” Stanziale said. “I think premiumization is here to stay.”
The three tiers
The program offers “good, better and best” hot tea options for foodservice operators, the company said.
The first tier is Mighty Leaf Origins and falls under the “good” designation because it is a high-quality, non-GMO value-line for budget dining and lodging. The six tea varieties include: earl grey grey, English breakfast, jasmine green, tropical green, chamomile, and pure mint.
“The non-GMO accreditation is really important to colleges and universities,” Stanziale said.
The second-highest tier or “better” tier is the company’s trademarked Mighty Leaf Whole Tea that has undergone a refreshed branding designed for hospitality, lodging, casual dining, and office coffee service.
Each of the 20 Mighty Leaf whole leaf teas in this tier come in the company’s hand-stitched pouches and over half of the line has been converted to USDA Organic, and 20% is Fair Trade Certified. In addition, the company is launching four new teas under the Mighty Leaf Whole Tea brand including: organic and Fair Trade coconut Assam, organic emerald matcha, organic and fair trade almond spice, and decaf breakfast.
The upper tier called Tea & Company is a new brand launch for Mighty Leaf and a nod to its roots as premium tea shop in San Francisco roughly 20 years ago. The “uber-premium” whole-leaf, USDA-Organic teas targets higher-end restaurants and hotels where “boutique dining is critical,” the company said.
New iced tea offering
Mighty Leaf Tea is also rolling a new iced tea portfolio for foodservice providers designed to appeal to a broad range of consumer tastes.
The updated iced tea offering includes 10 flavors: five black tea varieties, three green tea options, and two herbal teas. Among those flavors, four are USDA Certified Organic.
“Iced tea is growing at two times the rate of water and juice in foodservice,” Stanziale said.
All 10 flavors are offered in pre-portioned three gallon fractional packs and one gallon filter bag options, the company said.