Trends In The Wholesale And Retail Loose Leaf Tea Industry

The tea industry in the United Sates is a growth industry and the role of retailers or value added resellers has played an important part in the overall expansion. Value added resellers and retailers add significant value to the tea industry as they bundle tea offerings with quality dining and other services but they must be supported by comprehensive wholesale programs that are reliable , consistent and profitable.

What trends are driving the market?

In most countries in the world, tea is the second most popular beverage after water. The one exception is tea drinking in the United States. But the market for quality loose leaf tea has unlimited upside potential for tea drinkers in this country.

The market for high quality loose leaf tea is experiencing strong growth and this is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. The growth of revenue and profits in the value added retail sector of the market is also very strong particularly when tea is prepared and presented as a part of a total offering in tea rooms, fine dining establishments and hotels.

There are a number of factors influencing this growth in loose leaf tea demand:

•The incredible good taste of tea and blends.

•The health benefits of tea.

•The wide variety of tea flavors and blends.

•A growing awareness about the enjoyment benefits of loose leaf tea .

•An expansion of the value added reseller network for quality loose tea.

•Many consumers are looking for an alternative to coffee as a hot or iced drink of choice.

•Consumers are tired of the "tea bag mentality" where the taste and quality of tea is sacrificed for the convenience of the tea bag.

Because of a number of historic factors like the American Revolution and other socio-economic events, the market for loose leaf teas was stalled for over two centuries in the United States but that is changing dramatically and rapid growth is now a fact.

What is the biggest mistake retailers make in regards to their tea program?

The biggest mistake that retailers make is the failure to prepare and present tea properly.

Quality tea, served either hot or iced, is a wonderful discriminator for any restaurant, tea room or hotel. Quality, loose leaf tea on the menu of a high quality food establishment will separate the retailer from the competition.

Quality tea can also serve as a profit center for the retailer as consumers are willing to pay extra for a quality cup of hot tea or glass of quality iced tea.

Many resellers however, have not focused on the value that tea can bring to their Unique Selling Proposition. Through oversight in the tea offering, many consumers are left with lower levels of satisfaction and this is adversely affecting retailers and their overall product offering.

For consumers, there is nothing more deflating for the total dining experience than a bad cup of tea, offered without consideration to the consumer. At the close of an otherwise ideal meal experience costing in excess of $100.00 per person, customer satisfaction can be ruined by simple oversight. This happens time and again as tea drinkers, expecting a quality brew are slighted by a saucer with tea bags mixed with a cup or bowl of warm tap water.

Ending a meal this way is a good way to loose customers to the competition.

Advice to retailers to maximize their tea program

High quality loose leaf tea can play an important part in a retailer’s business. As the demand for quality loose leaf tea expands, retailers should :

•Understand the tea culture and the role of tea in growing your business

•Use only the highest quality loose leaf tea.

•Train your staff to prepare and present both hot and iced tea in a quality manner.

•Offer the customer the best tea ware (tea infusers and pots) to complete the presentation.

•Include quality tea as part of you Unique Value Proposition and product/service offering.

Things to keep in mind for new retailers

The most important thing is to deal with a tea manufacturer that offers a total benefit program to the retailer including:

•Highest quality, best tasting tea backed up by superior packaging and a no questions asked guarantee of quality.

•Dedicated customer support with staff knowledgeable about tea and the tea business (not just taking orders)

•Multiple-tier wholesale pricing. with volume based discounts.

•Easy ordering and order lookup.

•Unlimited shipping locations per order.

•Single point of billing for multiple locations.

•Automatic recall of locations and recipients.

Value added tea resellers and retailers add significantly to the tea industry but they also need quality wholesale programs to support their value added efforts. Retailers should seek out the best tea suppliers that meet their value added requirements.

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About The Author, Marcus Stout
Jon Stout is Chairman of the Golden Moon Tea Company. For more information about tea, white tea and wholesale tea go to www.goldenmoontea.com