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Today’s consumers are undoubtedly taking a growing interest in healthy living, and this trend has had a significant impact on the ready-to-drink (RTD) iced tea market. Negative press condemning carbonated soft drinks’ contribution to the obesity epidemic has driven a greater number of people to seek more wholesome beverage alternatives, such as RTD iced tea. For example, US sales in this market grew over 19% in 2005, while the consumption of full-calorie soda dropped by 24% between 2002 and 2005. Manufacturers within the market have furthered their new products’ health credentials by introducing low/no/reduced calorie, sugar and fat options and a greater product naturalness.
The RTD iced tea market is particularly active in Asia and the United States. It has benefited from widespread publicity about the naturally high antioxidant content of tea, with advocates claiming that tea helps to maintain a healthy immune system, reducing the signs of aging and wards off life-threatening diseases such as cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Manufacturers have also enriched their iced teas with vitamins, minerals and other beneficial elements, while functional ingredients and claims are also increasingly prevalent.
Consumers’ desire for variety with regard to their beverage choices could be another reason they are moving away from carbonated soft drinks and trying RTD iced tea products. And while most products were natural or unflavored iced teas, there is now an increasingly wide variety of flavored iced teas on the market.
Fruits are the flavor of choice in this market and with so many fruits now readily available across the world, we have seen an ever-increasing number of different fruit flavors coming through in the RTD iced tea sector. According to the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), lemon and peach were by far the most popular fruit flavors, but a wide range of berry flavored products were also launched, including strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, cherry and blackcurrant.