By Princewill Ekwujuru
There are indications that non-regular tea is now driving growth ahead of the regular tea in the industry as more consumers put health considerations in their choices.
The tea industry is divided into four segments, the herbal, green and organic teas are the non-regular category while black tea is the regular category. Before now, the most popular among them is the black tea. Hitherto, the rise in white colar job had created stable growth for the regular tea market.
Market makers have also identified slimming tea (part of organic tea family) as a major contributor to the growth of the sector, due to increased number of consumers interested in products that offer weight loss and or offer health benefits.
Consequently, leading manufacturers of the products, both local and international companies are diversifying their focus into the non-regular brands.
International brands that are now taking increased market shares in Nigeria without manufacturing affiliates in the herbal tea segment are Tazo Beverage Industry and Associated British Foods, ABF. Others are organic teas like Tulsi, Rose hip and Turmeric.
The only known Nigerian producer is Mambilla Beverage Company, Taraba, Taraba State.
Multinationals with affiliates in Nigeria are Tata Global Beverages, Promasidor Nigeria Limited, PNL and Unilever Nigeria Plc.
Since the tea revolution began in Nigeria occasioned by increased number of consumers interested in products that offer weight loss and health benefits, tea drinking has taken a new order, brands like Tazo, Twinings, Tulsi, Rose hip, Turmeric etc emerged to add to the growth of the market, categorizing consumers’ choices.
Lipton from the stable of Unilever Nigeria Plc overtime had controlled the market before the coming of Top tea lemon variant produced by Promasidor which propelled it to the second position in the market and eroded the market share of Lipton for a while, today, all is not the same with the brand.
After local and international tea companies discovered the gap in the industry they flooded the market with herbal tea brands like Tazo produced by Tazo Beverages Industry, Twinings by ABF.
From the number of respondents interviewed by Vanguard Companies and Markets (C&M), Unilever leads the regular tea market, a position it will be occupying for a very long time, a marketing communications expert, Jude Igbani of Orlick Communications, said.
A consumer, Emmanuel Ejinkoye, said herbal/traditional medicinal teas that offer a range of preventative and curative benefits – such as those made from the popular Moringa herb, have gained acceptance in the market.
On slimming or health teas, Ebube Nwandike, a tea dealer at Allen in Ikeja, said: “Each of these teas for weight loss have their own individual, magic properties, from dimming your hunger hormones to upping your calorie burn to, literally, melting the fat that’s stored in your fat cells. They can also help reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, too. Stick to three to four cups or tea bags of these tea per day, and choose brewed varieties over bottled drinks to avoid extra calories and sweeteners.”
Another consumer, Adigun Adewokun, said, “tea consumption has seen a rich growth. This growth is as a result of being a staple food, particularly in the mornings. Check the roadsides in the morning, business people, civil servants, transport operators all manner of persons gather at bus-stops, corners to have a sip before moving to their various destinations. The trend is more among bachelors.”
A tea merchant, Bertrand Ugbaja, said: “The availability of a wide range of tea types is expected to offer novelty and variety for consumers, with growing health consciousness and desire for weight loss leading to greater demand for green tea and fruit/herbal tea, including herbal/traditional medicinal teas and slimming teas. Overall growth, though, will be driven by black tea, which is expected to benefit from growth in the formal working culture.”
According to him, “tea sales are expected to see a total volume compound annual growth rate, CAGR, of four percent over the year supported by growth in the urban population.”
According to C&M findings, commercial activities increased in most cities across the country, people are getting used to new ways of doing things, including how they take their breakfasts and suppers, which has expanded the fast food sector. Fast food shops are found at street corners and also serve a variety of food drinks like tea and beverages.
Among these food shops is the tea seller, generally referred to as ‘Mai Shai,’ brewer of tea in Hausa.
Most of them operate in makeshift shops by the roadside, where their customers could easily see them early morning or in the evening.
Though, they may appear insignificant, some people have made it a habit to visit tea shops as their first port of call in the morning, before reporting to work and the last place to visit at night.
Apart from the ubiquitous ‘Mai Shai’, there is also another group of men and women that move around the city vending cold tea, hot or cold.
Alhaji Ahmed Aliru, a ‘Mai Shai’ based in Ajegunle, said tea business has changed from what it used to be “when I first ventured into it in 1990 in Sokoto State.” Tea business has given him money no other business could have given him.
While some sell their tea hot or warm, Adebisi Adeleke has taken the business to another level, providing same product to customers who want theirs cold. She takes her wares in transparent plastic container around markets and busy bus stops.
According to her, not all people like their tea hot or warm, so we have provided for that segment of tea market.
Explaining that the demand is almost as high as the normal hot tea segment, Adeleke disclosed that she sells three plastic containers of cold tea a day and hopes to increase it.
During hot days, she disclosed, “demand is usually high and on such occasions, I sell two to three big containers of cold tea. I make enough money to maintain myself, as a single mother, pay my bills and send my two children to private schools.”
Revealing that the market is large and that she cannot cover it alone, Adebisi noted that she puts in little to get much.
Unilever tea leads
Reacting to their leadership position, a source in Unilever, who pleaded anonimity said the Lipton brand remains an undisputed market leader in the Nigerian tea category, with an intense passion of ensuring the brand delivers a great cup of tea bursting with flavours and freshness to every Nigerian consumer.
“We keep our consumers at the heart of what we do and ensure all innovations on the brand and how we bring Lipton to life in the media space & marketplace are centered around what the consumers need. Our ongoing Big Idea promo was borne out of the urgent need to make the lives of Nigerians easier through the recession period.”