Stay-at-home warrants hampered the $ 1.1 billion category of specialty, shelf-stable, and ready-to-drink coffee and tea in 2020 as use opportunities dwindled without consumers visiting on a daily basis. at the office or at school.
According to the State of the Specialty Food Industry Research by the Specialty Food Association, 2020-2021 edition, the category grew 8.4% between 2015 and 2019. But Mintel, who worked with SFA on the 2020-2021 edition, predicts RTD coffee and tea to slow significantly from 2020 to 2024, up to 0.8% growth for a total of $ 1.2 billion in retail sales of brick and mortar d ‘by 2024.
The specialty share of the total category is above average at 33 percent, but conventional brands with high-end positioning are putting pressure on the specialty segment. And, during the first wave of COVID-19 last spring, specialties grew much more slowly than the total RTD shelf-life tea and coffee category, by 1.9% compared to 4.8% from January to April. 2020 compared to the previous year.
RTD coffee represents the majority of the category and has outpaced the growth of RTD tea, although sales were somewhat offset by non-RTD coffee as consumers turned to home brewing during shutdowns.
Refrigerated RTD coffees and teas, although a smaller category with sales of $ 316 million in 2019, saw more robust sales growth of 37.7% between 2017 and 2019. Its growth is expected to slow after COVID, however, according to Mintel’s forecast.
A return to more normal routines of commuting, working in office buildings and attending school on campus could help ease slowdowns in refrigerated or stable segments, according to the report. Ready-to-use coffees and teas are also influenced by several trends that help attract consumers. These include:
Cold infusion. Cold brew coffees, in which the grounds do not interact with the water at high temperatures, are presented as less bitter and tastier with less acidity. Some recent RTD varieties to hit the market include Cowffee, a cold brew blend of coffee and milk made by Pursue Happiness, and Cold Brew TetraPak from Café Grumpy. Sofee has also introduced The Escapist, a Mexican chocolate flavor, in its line of lightly cold carbonated RTD coffee.
Herbal. The addition of plant-based milk in RTD coffee drinks has opened up sales opportunities for consumers looking for alternative dairy products. New products include Taika’s macadamia and oat lattes, made with artisanal coffee and featuring functional mushrooms and adaptogens like ashwagandha, lion’s mane, reishi and cordyceps. Nitro Latte with Oatmilk from Califia Farms combines the company’s oat milk with Arabica coffee from direct trade from producers in Central and South America.
Sparkling and hard teas. Carbonated RTD teas are an increasingly popular segment. Silverback Sparkling Tea in Keto Green Hibiscus, for example, is an organic carbonated sencha-style green tea from Rwanda, produced by 3 Mountains. Sub-segments like hop-based sparkling teas, similar to craft beer but alcohol-free, are also gaining popularity.
Sugar free. The SFA Trendspotter panel identified low sugar and no sugar as a 2021 Top 10 trend, with consumers choosing to cut back on sugar and look to alternatives. The trend is increasing in the category of RTD drinks, especially in teas. Sun Moon Lake Black Tea No. 18 Ruby is a combination of Burmese bigleaf black tea and wild Taiwanese camellia. It does not contain sugar but has a natural scent of cinnamon and mint. Shaka tea is a sugar-free tea infused with māmaki, an herbal tea that is not found and grown in the Hawaiian Islands.