Euromonitor: Coffee to eclipse tea in consumption in the UK by 2021

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Black tea's reign as the standard tea of the UK has diminished as younger consumers are more likely to favor green and herbal teas. ©iStock/isa-7777
Black tea's reign as the standard tea of the UK has diminished as younger consumers are more likely to favor green and herbal teas. ©iStock/isa-7777

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Annual coffee consumption in the UK is projected to overtake tea consumption by 2021 with black tea registering the steepest sales declines, according to Euromonitor. 

The UK once had the second highest per capita consumption of tea of 1.9kg per person in 2002 but has dropped to 1.4kg of tea per person in 2016, falling to fourth in global per capita consumption, Euromonitor data showed.

Coffee consumption has been growing each year since 2012 and is expected to reach 100,463.6 tons (91,139.3 tonnes) in volume sales by 2021, unlike tea, which has been on a downward trend declining nearly 19% since 2002, according to the market data provider.

Despite coffee’s projected surpassing of tea over the next four years, tea retail volume is still expected to increase slightly from 99,035 tons (89,843.1 tonnes) in 2016 to 99,410.5 tons (90,183.7 tonnes) in 2021.

Coffee perceived as more modern

“Black standard tea continues to diminish in value sales terms due to an ongoing lack of willingness to contemporize,” ​Euromonitor said.

Coffee’s path to eclipse tea consumption in the UK is also partially due to its contemporary image perception by younger consumers, according to Euromonitor.

“Tea remains a staple beverage and consumption doesn’t change dramatically, but younger people do start drinking more coffee because it is perceived as more modern,”​ Matthew Barry, Euromonitor beverage analyst told BeverageDaily.

“Usually this is also accompanied by the growth of the coffee shop as a place to socialize and hang out as well.”

Black tea prominence fades

Black tea has experienced the largest decline in consumption, as millennials are less likely to share the same affinity for what has long been considered the standard tea choice in the UK, Euromonitor analysts commented.

“As many younger consumers do not drink black tea today they are unlikely to start in the future. This indicates that sales of black standard tea will further decline over the forecast period,” ​analysts said.

Sales of black tea have been on the decline since 2012 decreasing by an average of 1.35% in volume between 2012 and 2017.

As millennial consumers continue to explore the more novel variants of green tea and fruit/herbal tea, black standard tea, the cultural mainstay of the UK, keeps losing share,” ​analysts said.

A bright spot for the UK tea market is the growing popularity of herbal and green tea products. Green tea has seen the largest growth in volume posting a CAGR of 14.8% between 2016 to 2017, according to Euromonitor.

“With the associated health benefits in these categories new product developments will continue to be launched, further strengthening growth,” ​analysts added. 

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