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RETAIL TEA SALES TOP $1 BILLION AS POPULARITY JUMPS; INDUSTRY DOLLAR VOLUME INCREASES 6 PERCENT OVER 1990

          RETAIL TEA SALES TOP $1 BILLION AS POPULARITY JUMPS;
          INDUSTRY DOLLAR VOLUME INCREASES 6 PERCENT OVER 1990
    NEW YORK, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. retail supermarket sales of tea in 1991 surpassed the $1 billion mark for the 12 month period ending December 31, marking a consumer-first in buying and drinking this increasingly popular beverage, Joseph P. Simrany, executive director of the Tea Council of the U.S.A., Inc., announced today.
    With retail supermarket sales of tea rising to 128 million pounds(A), or $1,019 billion by year-end -- outperforming the growth rate of canned and frozen juices and drinks, and coffee -- 1991 marks the first time in almost a decade that consumer purchases of tea increased significantly as Americans embrace more active, contemporary, healthier lifestyles and all-natural "New Age" beverages.
    The six percent increase in dollar volume from the $966 million consumers spent on tea in 1990 is particularly noteworthy given the overall slowdown in the growth of retail food outlet dollar sales, currently up only three percent vs. the five percent registered last year.
    Total tea consumption is, notes Simrany, being driven by the consumer's desire for natural, wholesome, quality branded products that meet the demands of today's active, healthy and contemporary lifestyle.
    "It's out with the fat-builders, and in with all natural, no calorie, relaxing and refreshing 'New Age' thirst-quenchers that help keep you fit and trim," Simrany stated.  "Tea is compatible with the trend towards healthier lifestyles and overall well-being.  We expect this trend to continue, quite possibly making tea the most sought after beverage in the 90s."
    The steady growth in consumer demand for tea focuses primarily on tea bags and iced tea mixes, according to the Tea Council study prepared by nationally recognized Nielsen Marketing Research.  Total purchases of iced tea mixes surged eight percent, while purchases of tea bags posted a one percent gain in pound sales compared to 1990.  Sales of herbal tea bags, which had been a strong performer in the past, dropped two percent in terms of pound sales to 5.3 million pounds compared to the 5.4 million pounds registered a year ago.
    Ready-To-Drink Sales Soar
    In terms of percentage increases, the recently introduced "Ready-to- Drink" canned, bottled or aseptically packaged liquid tea is leading the industry as the fastest growing tea product.  While representing only 5 percent of total U.S. tea sales, 1991 liquid tea sales totaled 1.8 million pounds or $53 million -- a 50 percent dollar increase over the same year-ago period.
    The positive trends reflect retail grocery sales of tea as measured by Nielsen's nationally protectable sample of 3,000 stores representing the 31,000 supermarkets with annual sales of $2 million or more. The sample covers 82 percent of total grocery all commodity volume.
     Headquartered in Northbrook, Ill., Nielsen Marketing Research is the world's leading market information services company with some 20,000 employees in 28 countries.  The company has been tracking tea sales for years.
    The Tea Council of the U.S.A., Inc., headquartered in New York, is a non-profit organization representing domestic and international companies and foreign governments whose business interests involve the growing, trading, processing or distribution of tea products.
    (A) -- Pounds of Tea equals the equivalent tea leaves required to equal one pound.
    -0-        2/12/92
    /CONTACT:  Joseph P. Simrany of The Tea Council of the U.S.A, 212-986-6998; or Pete Schuddekopf of FCS Communications, 212-754-1760, for The Tea Council of the U.S.A./ CO:  Tea Council of the U.S.A. Inc. ST:  New York IN:  FOD REA SU:  ECO TS -- NY002 -- 9098 02/12/92 09:00 EST
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Date:Feb 12, 1992
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