In Brief

Is Britain’s love affair with tea over?

PG Tips and Lipton could be sold by Unilever because they are falling out of favour with the public

Unilever is weighing-up whether to sell its multi-billion pound global tea business, as “changing consumer preferences” have seen more people switch from black tea to herbal or coffee.

Brands including PG Tips, Lipton and Lyon, which last year pulled in over £2.29 billion in revenue, could be sold by the retail giant as part of a strategic review to streamline its business. Unilever, the company behind other household names such as Marmite, Magnum and Knorr, revealed its pre-tax profits fell by a third to €8.3bn last year.

In a bid to refocus the firm, the BBC reports that Chief Executive Alan Jope “has targeted what he calls ‘brands with purpose’, saying that brands which do not have a clear social or environmental function could be eliminated from Unilever's roster”.

But the Daily Mail says the main reason for offloading Unilver’s tea portfolio is “because the British public are falling out of love with tea”.

Black tea remains Britain’s favourite hot drink but the number of cups of tea brewed fell by 630m to 18.3bn in the year to February 2019, according to research firm Kantar.

In August it was revealed that Twinings had overtaken PG Tips to become Britain’s bestselling brand of tea.

The Guardian says “the traditional cuppa has fallen out of favour in western markets such as the UK and US, particularly among younger people, who are more likely to drink coffee. Those who still drink tea prefer herbal, fruit and decaffeinated brews as part of the trend towards healthy eating and drinking”.

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at trading platform Markets.com, told the paper: “Surely the move to ever-greater coffee consumption in the west has been a drag on tea sales as we swap out our cup of Assam for giant mugs of Arabica. It comes not long after the disposal of the spreads business which similarly fell prey to changing consumer trends in developed markets.”

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important business stories and tips for the week’s best shares - try The Week magazine. Start your trial subscription today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Recommended

Russia’s debt default: what impact will it have on the Putin regime?
Russian President Vladimir Putin with finance minister Anton Siluanov
Business Briefing

Russia’s debt default: what impact will it have on the Putin regime?

Recipe of the week: panzanella
Panzanella
On the menu

Recipe of the week: panzanella

How Hong Kong’s Jumbo Floating Restaurant capsized at sea
The Jumbo Floating Restaurant
Getting to grips with . . .

How Hong Kong’s Jumbo Floating Restaurant capsized at sea

How bad could the bear market get?
US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell
Talking point

How bad could the bear market get?

Popular articles

Are we heading for World War Three?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Are we heading for World War Three?

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?
Nato troops
Today’s big question

Nato vs. Russia: who would win in a war?

What happened to Zara Aleena?
Zara Aleena
In Brief

What happened to Zara Aleena?

The Week Footer Banner