Based on the latest findings, it’s possible that consumers are passing up their local coffee and tea shops for the nearest grocery store because ready-to-drink coffee and tea sales are increasing.

Data provided by SymphonyIRI Group, Chicago, show that sales in the shelf-stable tea/coffee ready-to-drink category rose 3.2% to $1.6 billion in the 52 weeks ended July 8, 2012, with the unit sales also showing an increase of 5.1% to 747.7 million. Likewise, the RTD refrigerated teas/coffee category saw an even larger increase of 16.3% to $508.5 million with units up 9.5% to 234.2 million. The categories consist of the following segments:

Tea/coffee ready-to-drink:

  • Canned and bottled tea ($1.3 billion sales, units up 4.9%)
  • Cappuccino/ice coffee ($295.4 million sales, units up 6.9%)

Refrigerated teas/coffee:

  • Refrigerated ready-to-drink coffee ($45.5 million sales, units up 154.7%)
  • Refrigerated teas ($461.2 million sales, units up 5.7%)

Seeing the largest overall increase in sales dollars was the refrigerated ready-to-drink coffee segment, up 184.2%. Leading the segment in overall sales was International Delight (from Whitewave Foods Co.) with $24.4 million. Bolthouse Farms took the second and third spots with sales of $19 million (for its protein-blended coffee) and $862,112 (blended coffee), respectively. The protein-blended coffee sales increased 26%, with units rising 30.4%. Upstate Farms was fourth in sales at $681,216. Number five Emmi had sales of $197,053, up 493.5%. Units increased 396.2% to 115,165. 

In the refrigerated tea segment (see table), Gold Peak (from Coca Cola Co.) saw the biggest increase in sales —  38.9% to $82.5 million — and unit sales were up 40.5% to 34.5 million. Private label led the segment; dollar sales rose 8.8% and unit sales were up 5.7%. Turkey Hill Natures Accent was the only brand in the top five to see a drop in sales, down 8.6% with its units down 13.9%.

In a different aisle, the ready-to-drink canned and bottled tea segment saw a minimal increase overall in sales, with four of the top five dropping in sales. Arizona tea dominates the segment in overall sales with $326.5 million, but its sales were down 1.4% and its units were also down 1.1% to 210.7 million. Lipton Brisk Tea saw the biggest drop in sales (-14.3%) and units down 13%. Diet Snapple was the only company in the top five with a sales increase, 8.9% up in dollars, 11.9% up in units.

In contrast the ready-to-drink cappuccino and iced tea category (see table) saw only one company with a decrease in sales. Doubleshot Light (from North American Coffee Partnership) saw a 19.5% drop in sales and its units were down 20.2%. Leading this category in sales is Frappuccino (also from North American Coffee Partnership) with $205.2 million; its sales were up 6.7% and units up 3.7%. Seeing the biggest increase was Illy Issimo (from Ilko Coffee International) up 125.5% in sales and 141.1% in units.