Cold tea drinks on the rise

Kalte Teegetränke
© / RODNAE Productions

Even traditionally hot drinks can be transformed into refreshments for any occasion. Cold tea drinks can be pure or augmented by fruity notes, sweetening or and even organic variations – offerings that consumers increasingly desire.

A promising category: Iced tea

There are good prospects for cold tea drinks: The Association of the German Non-alcoholic Beverage Industry e.V. (wafg) has calculated that in 2020 each German consumed around 114.4 liters of soft drinks. Despite the expected year-on-year decline due to the COVID-19-crisis, there is still a clear trend towards calorie-reduced and calorie-free soft drinks. “Iced tea is emerging as a cool drink right now,” says Lena Schmidt, presswoman at MBG International Premium Brands GmbH. “Many consumers want an alternative to the usual soft drinks and are increasingly turning to cold tea drinks.”

Moreover, for Sinalco iced teas were among the growth segments in 2019, while in 2020, amid continued positive development in turnover, sales stagnated or declined slightly. Cold tea drinks were also affected by the coronavirus crisis: “As our Trade Islands iced teas were developed exclusively for the catering industry, sales revenue has suffered greatly due to closures in the industry,” says Nicole Schüßler, marketing manager at Eder & Heylands brewery. Still, they are looking to next year and already planning a new cold tea drink flavor with less sugar.

The iced tea sector experiences intense competition, with a few larger brands competing with many smaller manufacturers as well as private labels dominating nearly half of the market and creating price pressure. However, iced tea market turnover developed better than sales revenue – high-priced manufacturing brands are clearly gaining relevance.

Cold tea drinks in many varieties

Tea drinks with mineral waters from Adelholzener and Labertaler

Adelholzener Alpenquellen manufactures medicinal and mineral waters – as well as three types of fruity tea drinks. For example, the lemon iced tea is made from natural mineral water and a concentrated Ceylon tea infusion with a dash of lemon juice. The wild berry iced tea is built on mineral water and a fruit tea extract, plus raspberry, elderberry and blueberry juice, making for a robust fruit content of three percent. For the peach iced tea, mineral water is mixed with a generous shot of tea extract, plus peach juice and some malt extract. Adelholzener’s iced teas are sweetened with natural sugars and artificial sweeteners. All three types are available in half-liter returnable PET bottles.

calorie-free soda drink
© Labertaler Tea & Cherry and Ice Tea Peach

Labertaler’s beverage portfolio includes two tea drinks made with mineral water from its in-house Stephanie Brunnen brand: “Ice Tea Peach” and “Tea & Cherry”.

Made from natural mineral water and a tea extract, Labertaler’s “Ice Tea Peach” has a powerful peach taste. This low-calorie soft drink is sold in 11 x 0.5-liter and 12 x 1.0-liter packs.

Likewise, “Tea & Cherry” is filled with natural Labertaler mineral water, and a high-quality fruit tea extract, plus the cherry flavor gives it a distinctly fruity taste. No carbon dioxide is added. Moreover, this unique beverage can be enjoyed either hot or cold. “Tea & Cherry” is available in 12 x 1.0-liter packs.

Unusual iced tea flavors created by AriZona

MBG has been selling the AriZona iced tea brand portfolio in Germany for the last four years. This comes in packs of 0.5-liter aluminum cans and 0.5 and 1.5-liter PET bottles. But the AriZona range has far more than just the popular peach and lemon flavors. It hosts other varieties like AriZona Ice Tea with Mango or Green Tea with honey, Watermelon, Pomegranate Green Tea or Blueberry White Tea.

For some time now, AriZona has also been producing unusual varieties of teas. While previously only traditional black tea was used, today they use green and white teas, which are particularly popular among younger target groups. Other than the tea, their main flavors have also grown more unusual, with varieties like watermelon or pomegranate.

© AriZona Ice Tea Fruit Punch, Mucho Mango, Watermelon

Premium iced tea from Eder & Heylands

Trade Islands, the premium iced tea brand from Eder & Heylands, comprises numerous tea drinks with flavors such as Sunny Peach, Blueberry, Lemon-Lime, Pomegranate and Mint’n’Lime. Trade Islands Melon is a new addition to their product range. The fruity sweetness of the watermelon makes it distinctly refreshing. For Trade Islands, Eder & Heylands utilizes only natural ingredients and real sugar. First, the high-quality highland teas are brewed fresh in hand-made, biodegradable nettle cloth tea bags, and then the unfiltered infusion is bottled. The higher caffeine content has also made their trendy portion bottles of iced tea a popular and invigorating drink, especially among night owls.

Healthy soft drinks conquering the market

Paraguay tea soft drink from DrinkStar

DrinkStar, owner and licensor of the traditional lemonade brand Frucade, is continuing to invest in its new trendy product, Fru Mate. Since March 2020, this Rosenheim beverage specialist has been selling the drink throughout German retail grocery stores.

Fru Mate is a caffeinated soft drink combining yerba mate leaf extract and tangy lemon juice. After successfully launching the 0.5-liter glass returnable bottle predominantly in Southern Germany, Fru Mate is being rolled out nationwide in 0.75-liter PET bottles made entirely from recycled material.

This product features the smoky, somewhat angular taste of mate. And a touch of citrus gives it a balanced, refreshingly fruity note. Today, soft drinks containing mate are being discovered as the latest trend, particularly by young target groups. At just 6.5 grams of sugar per 100 milliliters, Fru Mate contains significantly less sugar than most energy or soft drinks.

At the POS, the bottles are eye-catching with a retro design and South-American aesthetic. Six-packs with strong displays and high-selling secondary placements as well as powerful online campaigns have guaranteed consumer attention.

Low-calorie iced tea from Sinalco

Eistee von Sinalco
© Sinalco Eistee Pfirsich and Zitrone

Sinalco, a brand of H. Hövelmann GmbH, has also been active in the iced tea sector since summer 2019 with two products of its own. The two varieties, peach and lemon, offer a delicious combination of subtle black tea extract, top-quality fruits and un-carbonated, natural mineral water. Sinalco has found these flavors to be in high demand, accounting for over 50 percent of the market. Driven by the good sales development so far and the incredibly positive consumer feedback, the existing range will be utilized to exploit further growth potential.

Sinalco Iced Tea uses no artificial sweeteners and contains a solid third less sugar than traditional products. Therefore, with just 19 kcal per 100 milliliters, the low-calorie Sinalco Iced Teas are an appealing offering for the growing number of consumers deliberately limiting their sugar consumption. Sinalco Iced Teas are also based on still, natural mineral water. Furthermore, they are suitable for a vegan diet, containing neither gluten nor lactose.

Organic iced tea from Bionade        

A positive development in the cold tea beverage market can be found at Bionade. “While non-alcoholic soft drinks declined in sales by two percent across retail in 2019, cold tea drinks such as iced tea grew by two percent, and in the premium sector by up to 16 percent,” states Svenja Lonicer, Head of Marketing at Bionade. She goes on to say that “the business year was extremely positive in the organic sector. Non-alcoholic organic soft drinks increased by 13 percent, and organic iced teas by as much as 41 percent.”

A clear trend is also found in the iced tea sector with containers: While non-returnable PET grew by a further 1.4 percent, returnable glass bottles exceeded this development many times over with the addition of 17 percent. “The clear winners were organic soft tea drinks in returnable glass bottles,” says Lonicer. “This development will continue strongly in the current year. Our ‘Ti refreshment tea’ is perfectly positioned in this environment.”

Lonicer has identified the cause of this success as the product concept: “We rely on organic quality whole tea leaves produced in a sustainably and socially responsible way. They are brewed particularly gently in an aromatic process developed in-house and refined with the best organic fruit juices and only a little organic sugar.” This process generates the four types of Ti Erfrischungstee: mint tea with blackberry, green tea with mango, black tea with blueberry and pomegranate and rooibos tea with peach.

Bio-Eistees von Bionade
© Bionade Ti Green tea, Peppermint tea, Rooisbos tea

Introducing the 0.33-liter returnable glass container with a screw cap also provided a sales boost – as did increasing the use of social media channels due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Even if the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are currently slowing us down some, we will approach the coming year with renewed vigor and successfully promote Ti Erfrischungstee,” says Lonicer.

In short: Cold tea is in vogue

A sizeable selection of cold tea drinks is now available, and not just from niche suppliers. Whether they are based on black, green or white tea, low in calories or vegan – almost every taste is accounted for. In particular, high-quality products, including organic products, are successfully holding out against downward trends in the non-alcoholic beverages market. While the coronavirus crisis may have caused many dips in sales, manufacturers are optimistic for the future. And so, beverage wholesalers should keep an eye on this sector – and continue offering their customers an interesting range of teas.

Would you like to find out about current trends on the beverage market and exchange professional information? Then we invite you to take part in the next drinktec, which will be held in Munich from September 12 to 16, 2022.

This article is powered by Verlag W. Sachon.

Verlag W. Sachon

The publishing house W. Sachon, headquartered at Mindelburg Castle, publishes nine established trade journals that regularly provide their readers with exciting and interesting information. The emphasis lies in the brewing and beverage industry. The specialized publications are published in German, English, Spanish and Mandarin. A national and an international newsletter as well as an SMS Executive Flash complete the print offer digitally.