Tetley’s Heather Bushell on the out-of-home opportunities for tea

Martyn Fisher talks to Heather Bushell from Tetley, the leading tea brand in wholesale, about the category’s opportunities

How has Tetley helped wholesalers grow sales in the past 12 months?
We are committed to being at the forefront of the evolution of the tea category and have fostered fantastic relationships with our wholesale partners. Our priority is to ensure we provide customers with added value, by identifying their needs and tailoring our approach to suit their objectives and end-user demand.
What is the greatest challenge the industry faces?
Retail and foodservice are less distinct than ever. Wholesalers must adapt their businesses and rise to their clientele’s changing demands, as well as futureproofing their businesses by seizing online opportunities.
What trends and opportunities are emerging that customers can take advantage of?
A key trend is premiumisation, with 34% of tea drinkers likely to pay extra for more premium brands. Half of consumers who have seen new types of tea have tried a new brand out of home (OOH) in the past 12 months, so wholesalers must ensure they are stocking the blends and variants that meet this demand. Adding theatre around launches, with point-of-sale material and in-depot sampling, is a great way to encourage customers to try something new.
What challenges has Tetley had to overcome in the past year?
Tea is still dominated OOH by black tea consumption and volume remains flat year-on-year, with just 15% of consumers expecting to drink more black tea then they did a year ago. But, tea continues to be the second-biggest OOH beverage category, with growth in the sector increasing in the past year, while coffee occasions have stagnated.

We are proud to be the number-one wholesale tea brand and think the key to success is to provide customers with the full package to grow their sales, including merchandising solutions and educational tools.

What has been Tetley’s greatest achievement in the past year?
In December, we were awarded the Federation of Wholesale Distributors’ Gold Medal for Foodservice Brand 2017.  To be recognised with such a prestigious award was fantastic. 
What advice would you give wholesalers looking to grow sales in hot beverages?
The cost-sector is responsible for the bulk of OOH tea consumption. In the workplace, tea outperforms coffee, with 47% of consumers drinking tea every time they are in the workplace and 37% of millennials consuming a repertoire of teas at work. Meanwhile, the hotel sector presents the largest channel growth, and more fruit and herbal teas are consumed in hotels than in any other channel.
What would you like to see happening in wholesale in the next 12 months?
Black tea brand awareness remains high OOH, but the challenge for brands is to convert awareness into brand loyalty and brand desire. Branding is a key factor for consumers when purchasing tea OOH and we will be looking to drive loyalty back into tea in wholesale.
Are you planning any activity that wholesalers should be aware of?
In Scotland, we are working on a visibility drive with merchandising support and activity in depots. There is also plenty of scope to grow the category by focusing on the opportunities outside black tea – across retail and grocery, we have seen impressive results with our health-focused products and we will be looking to replicate this in wholesale with innovative new products.


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