Unilever concludes plan to sell off global black tea brands

Unilever is weighing the sale of its global black tea business by year end. The decision follows continuous slowdown in black tea sales due to changing consumer tastes.

Unilever reported decline in sales in its black tea brand across West Africa and other markets.  In its 2020 half year report, the consumer packaged foods firm disclosed that the decision to sell the bulk of its global iconic tea brands like Lipton and PG Tips, followed the completion of a strategic review launched this January. The Anglo-Dutch giant initiated a review of its global tea business after the company’s slowest quarterly growth in a decade.

“The decline in sales was a reflection of consumer shift to coffee as a primary source of caffeine “with takeaway cafes proliferating from London to Beijing and capsule-spewing espresso machines supplanting kettles on kitchen counters around the world,’ Unilever said in a statement.

A report published by The Grocer, a British magazine dedicated to grocery, noted that almost 900 million fewer cups of tea were drunk over the 12 months through May 2018 in the UK.

“Even those who eschew coffee are giving a pass to the traditional cup of English Breakfast or Earl Grey, opting for herbal alternatives. Slipping sales of the black tea also steadily declined over the last four years in West Africa, India, and the Middle East,” the report said.

Unilever wrote: “The balance of Unilever’s tea brands and geographies and all tea estates have an exciting future, and this potential can best be achieved as a separate entity. A process will now begin to implement the separation.”

While it will part ways with many of the assets related to the business, Unilever plans to hold on to its tea businesses in India and Indonesia, as well as its partnership interests in ready-to-drink tea joint ventures.


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