‘It’s flavor-forward, it’s global, it’s better for you’

Collins, who was speaking to FoodNavigator-USA as Celestial Seasonings prepared to re-open its offices in Denver to move to a hybrid working model, explained: “In recent yearsthere have been really low dollar growth and volume declines in the tea category, with growth coming from premiumization and pricing; the category had been really sluggish, losing households year over year for a number of years… until we hit the pandemic.

“And then we saw people really coming back into the category, so light users increased their usage, but we also had new people coming into the category, and household penetration expanded for the first time in about five years.

He added: “If you look at our bagged tea business, in the past 52 weeks, we’re up about 10.5% in consumption. And then if we were looking versus two years ago, we’re up 24.5%, so we’re outpacing the overall category.

“We’ve won an outsized share of TDPs or distribution points over the past year, so we’ve had double digit increases in our distribution on our bagged business and then we’ve also dramatically grown our K cup business over the past year.”

Sleep, energy, immunity…

So what’s behind the growth, aside from more people staying home?

According to Collins: “I think there’s been a renewed level of interest in the category, but we’re also proud of the innovation that we’ve brought to the market over the last 18 months, so we’ve been able to bring data to retailers really going after duplication in the category, so we can create space ​[for new products] by going after the ninth, tenth or eleventh versions of some of the category’s classic and repetitive flavors or benefits or formats.”

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