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Promoting tea with a Canadian twist.

Tea lovers in Canada and indeed, members of the tea trade, look back on a rich history and tradition. Tea was introduced in Canada by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1716. Since then, Canadians have become the highest per capita consumers of tea in the Western Hemisphere. In 1991, we enjoyed over 7 billion cups of tea, each one of us consuming over one pound of tea ! Today, our industry must resist the temptation of "steeping" itself in those traditions. Rather, we will build on those traditions in a modern contemporary context ensuring that our message corresponds to changing consumer trends. Canada's tea industry must now focus on the future, invest resources wisely and maximize the impact of the "tea message" to our key publics: consumers, foodservice operators, health and nutrition professionals.

Tea Industry "Joint Venture" 1992 was a year of restructuring and repositioning for Canada's tea industry. With the participation and support of the membership, includ- ing corporate and the producing nations of Kenya and Sri Lanka, the industry rose to the 90's challenge. For the first time, the Tea Council of Canada and the Tea Association of Canada have joined forces. While each organization fulfills its distinct mandate, to ensure optimal industry resource allocation, improve the consistency of the "tea message" and maximize efficiencies both the TCC and TAC are managed by one executive director, Danielle J. Fox.

The Tea Association of Canada has emerged as the industry advocate on labeling, health claims, customs and other regulatory, technical and legal issues on tea. The TAC actively represents and advances the interests of the Canadian tea industry to all levels of government in an effort to improve conditions under which the industry operates and to promote better business relations between the industry's players.

Issues which have required TAC action this year include:

* Canada's Food Guide, particularly with respect to caffeine content and decaffeinated tea products.

* dichloromethane (methylene chloride) as a decaffeination agent.

* "natural" and other health claims on labels.

* customs declaration agreement.

* tea and human health international initiative.

Members include packers (brand marketers, private label, specialty), importers, retailers and allied trade companies based in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.

The Tea Council of Canada is an international association of tea packers (large and small) and leading tea producing nations, including Sri Lanka and Kenya, which is dedicated to improving awareness, attitudes and general knowledge about tea-- the world's most popular beverage.

The Council's role is one of generic promotion targeted to the consuming public, food service industry and nutrition and health communities. The TCC continues to position tea as a refreshing, quality beverage which is part of a healthy lifestyle.

Canadian Market Trends

The Canadian tea market has been and continues to be a "hot" tea market with 80% consumed hot and 20% iced. The stability of this trend is included on the "plus" side of the tea industry equation. On the minus side, the share of hot beverage versus cold since 1988 has declined by 2%'divided equally between coffee and tea. So how does the Canadian tea trade complete the equation in favor of "the world's most popular beverage?"

First, we consider what is important to the Canadian consumer?

* nutrition is the #1 concern among Canadian food shoppers.

* "value" is returning as a purchasing criteria for consumers.

* cold nutritious light beverages are growing in terms of share of the beverage market.

Then, we build on our strengths and position ourselves to effectively respond to consumer needs of value and healthy diets. This will be achieved by effectively communicating the benefits of tea to each target market under the Council's three key priorities: generic promotion to consumer, generic promotion to foodservice operators, tea and human health education and promotion.

Strategy '93--Generic promotion to consumers is accomplished via general information material, press releases, public relations and cooperative promotion programs centered on the TCC's custom tea sachet. Key objectives in reaching consumers are to communicate the benefits of tea, promote initial trial and invite consumers to learn more. The tea message: tea is part of a healthy diet, economical and versatile.

Building on the successful Four Star Tea Grading Program as the cornerstone to the generic foodservice strategy, the TCC focuses on promoting high quality graded teas in the out-of-home market and supporting the efforts of brand sales and marketing staff by providing market information and developing training and sales support material. Cooperative promotion opportunities with equipment manufacturers, foodservice operators and other tea trade players are sought to widen communication channels and maximize return on investment. The tea message: tea is a profitable, versatile beverage that corresponds to your customers needs of value and nutrition.

International interest and support for research and promotion on the health benefits of tea has opened a new target market for the TCC. This requires careful strategic planning which hinges on developing industry credibility and visibility in the health and nutrition community, maintaining continuous access to new developments in Canada and overseas and establishing a solid foundation for future promotion of potential UN funded research outcomes in the course of the next five years (via the FAO Inter governmental Group on Tea project). The key will be to influence opinion leaders in the health and nutrition community so that they become a conduit to consumers in promoting tea as a refreshing quality beverage which is part of a healthy lifestyle.

The Bottom Line--Much of Canada's tea industry initiatives are "tried and true" methods which have been executed effectively in the U.S., U.K. or elsewhere. Why reinvent the wheel? That being said, British roots and American neighbors do not add up to a Canadian "off the shelf' formula for success. Players in Canada's tea industry compete within a unique legislative environment and market to consumers who do not correspond to a British or American behavior model.

Conclusion: We adapt the "tried and true," pursue niche opportunities unique to our market and seek out cooperative promotion ventures to widen the net.

Result: Maximum return on producing nations and corporate member contributions.

* Maximum reach for the tea message in all three target markets.

* Solid foundation for this decade and the next century.

To learn more about Canada's tea industry or to obtain a copy of our monthly newsletter QualiTEA Update contact the organization at: 885 Don Mills Road, Suite 301, Don Mills, Ontario M3C IV9 Canada Tel: (416) 510-8647, Fax: (416) 510-8044

Danielle Fox is the executive director of the Canadian Tea Council & Association.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Title Annotation:Tea Association of Canada and Tea Council of Canada continue to promote tea to the Canadian market with focus on health and economic trade issues
Author:Fox, Danielle J.
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Oct 1, 1992
Words:1081
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