Northern Ireland news

Traditional tea sales are falling, new research suggests

That lilting question of 'will you have a cup of tea' is less on the lips of people as new study shows fewer humble cuppas are being served

Fr Ted's housekeeper Mrs Doyle is infamous for her unrelenting entreaties, but her beloved cuppa is declining
Andrea McKernon and PA

IT'S enough to cause a storm in Mrs Doyle's teacup.

Trouble is brewing for the traditional cup of tea as research shows sales have dropped by 6% in the last five years.

The infamous Fr Ted housekeeper and her constant entreaty of 'ah go on, go on' armed with a teapot and cozy seems to be waning as research by consumer analysts Mintel shows fewer people are drinking the humble brew.

The study suggests rather that more and more are opting for fruit and herbal teabags - which have seen their sales soar in recent years.

In 2010 almost £700m was spent on tea compared with an estimated £654m in 2015, whereas sales of the fruitier cuppa have rocketed from £58m to £76m.

Yet the traditional cup of tea is still popular across Northern Ireland and Britain, with more than two thirds of tea drinkers agreeing it is a crucial ingredient for social occasions, figures showed.

Emma Clifford, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, said tea was "struggling to maintain consumers' interest".

"Consumers are becoming more adventurous in their choice of tea," she said. "People are branching away from standard teabags and towards these more interesting alternatives."

Ms Clifford warns sales could drop further because of the recent scares over sugar intake.

"It is widely accepted that tea is a good accompaniment to biscuits and cakes. Given the sugar scare, however, and that usage of such treats is in decline, these strong associations could have had a negative impact on the tea market," added Ms Clifford.

The research also shows men aged 16-44 are our biggest tea drinkers, with 80% putting the kettle on regularly.

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