The Canadian Tea Industry
The Canadian Tea Industry
Statistics Canada data for the Canadian coffee and tea industry is aggregated under the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) 31192 and consists of establishments primarily engaged in roasting coffee, manufacturing coffee and tea extracts and concentrates, including instant and freeze dried, blending tea, and manufacturing herbal tea.
Establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing coffee and tea substitutes are also included (e.g., coffee substitutes and instant coffee manufacturing, extracts, essence and preparation for both coffee and tea manufacturing, roasting coffee, tea blending and herbal tea manufacturing).
Not included in this category are establishments that bottle or can iced tea or coffee. These establishments are included under AICS 31211 Soft Drink and Ice Manufacturing.
Statistics Canada data under NAICS 31192 is aggregated for coffee and tea manufacturing.
Although Canada does not have the appropriate climate for growing tea, Canadian-based firms do import raw materials for processing and resale into domestic and export markets. Tea manufactured for retail and foodservice markets has been an important component of food and beverage processing in the country for many years.
Tea has been enjoyed by North Americans for centuries. Tea travelled from Europe with the pioneers who explored and settled North America. The first shipment to arrive in Canada was imported by the Hudson Bay Company in 1716 and took more than a year to arrive.
The tea industry is experiencing growth because consumers enjoy the taste and versatility of its products, and also because consumers are aware of health benefits associated with drinking tea. While traditional black tea is still the preferred type, a wide variety of specialty teas and iced teas are now being consumed in Canada.
The tea and coffee industry represented 1.1% of the total value of sales of food and beverage goods manufactured and 0.9% of manufacturing employment in the sector in 2008.
In 2008, 112 establishments Footnote 1 (plants) in the coffee and tea industry shipped $917 million worth of product and employed 2240 people. Canadian tea and coffee exports totalled $251.2 million in 2008 (Figure 1). The Canadian market absorbed the remaining $666 million in domestic shipments and a volume of imports worth $785.2 million. This industry continues to be a net importer.
Tea competes with a variety of other non-alcoholic beverages including coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks, milk and dairy beverages, fruit juices, bottled water, sports drinks, vegetable juices, soya beverages, hot chocolate, and low alcohol wine coolers and ciders.
Measured by volume (hectolitres), sales of tea made up about 12% of all non-alcoholic beverage sales in 2008, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation (Figure 2).
The majority of coffee and tea processing takes place in Ontario (41 establishments), Quebec (34 establishments) and British Columbia (26 establishments), followed by Alberta (9 establishments), Nova Scotia (3 establishments), Manitoba (2 establishments), and New Brunswick (2 establishments). Statistics Canada's Business Patterns Database indicates that in 2008 production facilities ranged in size from small one- or two-person operations to large plants employing up to 500 people. Four of the six major coffee and tea manufacturers (sales over $100 million) are foreign-owned.
There is a strong multinational presence in the tea industry with some firms offering both tea and coffee products. Multinational enterprises (MNEs) have contributed to the growth of both imports and exports as their Canadian plants have focussed on areas where they have competitive advantages on a regional basis in both the U.S. and Canadian markets or in production flexibility. Canadian plants produce commonly known brands for the Canadian or North American markets, while benefiting from the marketing strengths of their parent MNE firms. They often have product mandates for
"mainstream" products, as well as for value-added short-run production of less popular lines. Such mandates can build exports. At the same time, the need to fill product offerings in the Canadian market can increase imports.
Similarly, many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have rationalized and focussed their operations to remain competitive. These strategies involve the development of specialty products for market niches, such as organic or fairly traded products. In some cases SMEs also co-pack brand name products for MNEs, produce private-label products, or make products for use by foodservice operations such as tea houses and restaurants.
Domestic Market Performance
From 1998 to 2008, sales of goods manufactured by the coffee and tea industry decreased 27.4% from a value of $1263.1 million to a value of $917 million.
From 2000 to 2008, per capita consumption of tea (adjusted for losses) increased 34.3% from 59.12 litres to 79.37 litres. Footnote 2
Statistics Canada data show that the Canadian market for coffee and tea totalled almost $1.5 billion in 2008. ACNielsen reports that domestic market retail sales of tea totalled almost $403 million in 2008, an increase of 23.2% over 2007 when retail sales totalled $327 million (including specialty, iced and instant teas). Nielsen data includes all reported channels, i.e. grocery, drug, mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs and general merchandisers. Footnote 3
In addition to retail sales, the foodservice sector has recently had a positive impact on the tea industry. With growing consumer interest in high quality teas, tea houses have also been increasing in popularity with some companies expanding to new locations and new businesses opening across the country.
Value-added is a measure of the value of an establishment's outputs minus the cost of inputs. Value-added in the coffee and tea industry fluctuated between 1998 and 2008, from a peak of $341.8 in 2002 to a low of $301 million in 2005, and reached a value of $323 million in 2008. The proportion of value-added to sales of goods manufactured was 35.2% in 2008. This figure is similar to the Canadian food and beverage industry as a whole for which the proportion of value-added to the total value of sales of goods manufactured in 2008 was 36%.
Employment in the tea and coffee manufacturing industry decreased 35.2% from 3,459 people in 1998 to 2,240 people in 2008 Footnote 4 (Figure 3). Since 2006, with several plant closures and consolidation in the coffee industry and a tightening economy overall, employment has declined.
The recent decline in employment was accompanied by an improvement in labour productivity during the later part of the millennium as measured in output per production worker. Since 2005, the value of output per worker increased from $550,000 to about $710,000 in 2008. In making these improvements, the industry better positioned itself to compete in the domestic market against other beverages and in foreign markets such as the U.S.
While there is no data available on new investment in this industry, new investment in plant buildings, equipment and automated production systems has occurred to meet the increase in production and consumption of tea and coffee products. Much of this new capital investment is likely concentrated in the coffee business which appears to have enjoyed the most significant growth in production and exports. New tea houses are also appearing across Canada serving premium tea to discerning consumers.
Profitability is affected by the prices firms have to pay for inputs to production. For the tea manufacturing industry, fluctuating prices for tea leaves affect production costs.
In order to maintain profits, manufacturers are under increased pressure to improve productivity and cut costs. Recent higher prices for tea due to droughts and shortages in tea producing countries have been a factor for tea companies. Manufacturers may pass these costs on to consumers. For the coffee and tea industry, the value-added per production worker has increased by 31.5% from 1998 to 2008. The value-added per production worker provides some indication of profitability. For the tea and coffee industry, profitability has remained fairly stable between 2000 and 2005 and has improved moderately since 2005 (Figure 4).
Tea manufacturers and tea houses have developed blends of tea leaves which combine different types of tea for flavour and quality at optimum prices.
Some consolidation in the industry has also improved production capacity at processing facilities across Canada.
Canadian exports of coffee and tea, combined, increased from $278.3 million in 1999 to $324.4 million in 2009 with the bulk of exports ($316.2 million in 2009 or 97.5%) destined to the U.S. (Figure 5).
Imports of tea and coffee increased significantly from $487.9 million in 1999 to $845.3 million in 2009 (of which 71.5% or $604.1 million was imported from the U.S.). This figure includes imports of coffee, tea, maté and spices, instant coffee, tea extracts, maté extracts, essences and concentrates.
In 2008, Canadian exports of coffee and tea accounted for 27.4% of sales of goods manufactured by the tea and coffee industry. This portion is an improvement over the past five years but is lower than the peak in 2001 when Canadian exports accounted for 29.3% of sales of goods manufactured. Between 1998 and 2008 imports of tea and coffee have also greatly increased their share of the Canadian market, accounting for 32.6% of the domestic market in 1998 and 54% in 2008.
Canadian exports of tea almost doubled between 1999 and 2009 from $56.3 million to $108.8 million, representing a growth of 93% during that period. Exports of extracts of tea or maté, essences and concentrates made up 67.3% of total tea exports in 2009, followed by black tea in individual tea bags accounting for 18.6% of total tea exports. Exports of black tea in individual tea bags grew significantly between 1999 and 2009 from $1.8 million to $20.2 million. Exports of green tea in packages not exceeding 3 kg also grew dramatically between 1999 and 2009 from $30 thousand to $9.9 million.
Canadian imports of processed tea grew 57% from 1999 to 2009, from $115.7 million to $181.5 million and accounted for 79% of total tea imports valued at $146.6 million in 1999. By 2009, although total tea import value increased to $238 million, the share of processed tea decreased to 76% of total tea imports (Figure 6).
Imports of tea in bags (individual servings) in 2009 was the largest category, totalling $119.9 million, accounting for 50.4% of total tea imports. (See Figure 6.) Imports of green tea have also grown rapidly between 1999 and 2009, reflecting increased demand for a product relatively new to the domestic market. In 1999, imports of green tea were valued at $10 million and by 2009 they grew to $40.4 million, accounting for 17% of total tea imports.
Imports of green tea in bags, measured by volume, grew 50% between 1999 and 2009, totalling one million kilogram in 1999 and growing to 1.5 million kilograms in 2009. Imports of herbal tea in bags also showed growth during the period, with a value of $4.2 million in 1999 and more than doubling to a value of $10.5 million in 2009. Measured by volume, imports of herbal tea in bags grew 159% between 1999 and 2009. In 1999, Canada imported 305,308 kilograms of herbal tea in bags and by 2009 this volume increased to 791,536 kilograms. Imports of black tea in bags, measured by volume, decreased by 15.3% between 1999 and 2009. Canada imported a volume of 5.9 million kilograms of black tea in bags in 1999, but by 2009 the imported volume of black tea in bags declined to 5.0 million kilograms.
While the United Kingdom, the United States, and Sri Lanka were the top suppliers to Canada of black tea in bags for individual servings in 2009, the United Kingdom, the U.S., and China dominated in the supply of green tea in bags to Canada in 2009. The top three countries providing Canada with bulk black tea in 2009 were India, Sri Lanka and Kenya. Footnote 7
The FAO projects world production of black tea to increase by an annual growth rate of 1.2% to reach 2.4 million tonnes by 2010. Using world net imports, the FAO estimates consumption of black tea by importing countries to be about 1.15 million tonnes by 2010; however black tea consumption in producing countries is expected to reach 1.27 million tonnes (or about 52% of global production). By 2017, world production of black tea is expected to reach 3.1 million tonnes, while world consumption is expected to be 2.8 million tonnes. While production data for green tea is available and is expected to grow at a faster rate than that of black tea, green tea consumption data was not complete at the time of this report. Prices for tea may reflect the oversupply over the medium term.
Food and Drugs Act
Health Canada is responsible for establishing standards for the safety and nutritional quality of all foods sold in Canada. The department exercises this mandate under the authority of the Food and Drugs Act and pursues its regulatory mandate under the Food and Drug Regulations.
All health and safety standards under the Food and Drug Regulations are enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The CFIA is also responsible for the administration of non-health and safety regulations concerning food packaging, labelling and advertising.
The Food and Drug Regulations sets out conditions regarding health, quality, composition and labelling requirements that would apply to tea and coffee manufacturers just as they would to other food manufacturers so that consumers will have confidence in the safety of the products they purchas.
Natural Health Products Regulations (NHPR)
Natural Health Product Regulations came into effect in Canada on January 1, 2004. These regulations apply to specific homeopathic or traditional medicines found in Schedule 1 of the NHPR or a combination of these ingredients which are represented to diagnosis, treat, mitigate or prevent disease, disorders or an abnormal physical state or its symptoms. These types of ingredients can also be represented as restoring, correcting, modifying organic function in a manner that maintains or promotes health.
A health claim is any representation in labelling or advertising that states, suggests, or implies that a relationship exists between consumption of a food, or an ingredient in the food, and health.
All health claims are subject to subsection 5.(1) of the Food and Drugs Act that prohibits false, misleading or deceptive product representations. In Canada, specific health claims are permitted on foods and Natural Health Products. The terms
"drug" are both defined in the Food and Drugs Act. Natural health products (NHP), which are a subset of drugs, are defined and regulated under the Natural Health Products Regulations (NHPR). These definitions are important in determining the correct classification of a product (i.e. food, drug or NHP) and whether a specific claim is permitted on a product.
Green tea (made from the plant Camellia sinensis) is regulated as either a food or a natural health product (NHP). If sold in a tea or tisane form, the product may be regulated by the CFIA as a food under Division 20 of the Food and Drug Regulations. However, if the product is in a non-food format, such as a pill or tablet, then it may be regulated as a natural health product by the Natural Health Products Directorate of Health Canada. Due to the broad definition for a NHP there is an overlap between the two regulatory frameworks. In March 2009, Health Canada released a guidance document
"Classification of Products at the Food-Natural Health Product Interface: Products in Food Formats" in order to assist in classifying a product as either a food or Natural Health Product. The format of the product will be a factor in determining what regulations apply to the product and what health claims may be permitted.
Green tea sold as a food product is permitted to make a function claim when used under the specific conditions set out in Table 8-2 of the CFIA's Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising (GFLA). Function claims are claims about the specific beneficial effects that the consumption of the food or a constituent of the food (i.e. nutrient or other component) has on normal functions or biological activities of the body. Permitted variations on function claims can be found in Table 8-2 of the GFLA. Manufacturers of black tea products may wish to make a new function claim but must have scientific evidence to validate the claim prior to its use on food labels or in advertisements.
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More information on natural health product regulations can be found at Health Canada's website as follows: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/about-apropos/index-eng.php.
Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act
The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, also enforced by the CFIA, requires that prepackaged foods either imported or made in Canada, must not bear any false or misleading information regarding its origin, quality, performance, net weight or quantity.
Mandatory Nutrition Labelling
On December 12, 2007, nutrition labelling became mandatory on most pre-packaged products. Exemptions can be found in section [B.01.401(2)] of the Food And Drug Regulations. Products lose their exemption status if a health claim or nutrient content claim is made.
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With respect to the environment, tea manufacturers, like all food and beverage processing firms, must meet all federal laws (e.g., the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and each province's legislation and regulations.
Under the Pest Control Products Act and regulations pursuant to this Act, Health Canada determines which pesticide sprays are approved for use and how they are to be used. Firms check pesticide residue levels in their products to ensure that they are within regulation levels. Consumer awareness of pesticide residues and their impacts on human health and the environment is increasing.
One environmental issue that food processors in general have faced is waste remaining from packaging. Reductions in container weight can result in reductions in fuel used by large trucks as well as wear and tear on tractor trailers when hauling product to market, with the added environmental benefits of reducing the amounts of wasted materials as well as emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants.
Waste reduction is important everywhere and particularly for large urban centres that are rapidly using their landfill capacity and are experiencing difficulty and expense in finding and using acceptable new landfill sites. Reduction of materials in packing cartons can potentially provide both financial and environmental benefits. There are some difficulties with reducing bulky packaging. Plastics and cardboard can help protect foods during transportation. There is a trade-off between the volume of packaging materials (complete with graphics, etc.) needed to identify brands and increase the attractiveness of a product on the one hand, while minimizing packaging requirements from an environmental and cost control point of view, on the other hand.
Similarly, reductions in waste go hand-in-hand with cost savings as food processors and other manufacturers make increasing use of plastic, rather than wooden, pallets. Although more expensive to buy, plastic pallets, which can be made from recycled plastic, can be used many more times than wooden pallets which tend to be mangled fairly quickly by fork lifts and then sent to landfill.
Prior to plant construction, food processors must meet municipal zoning requirements. A proposal to build a new state-of-the-art plant or to substantially enlarge an existing facility could result in hearings to assess environmental impacts before construction may proceed. Provinces and municipalities have to be satisfied that systems will be put in place for waste water treatment. Some processors take a pro-active approach by developing
"best practices" with respect to the environment, for example reducing their energy and water usage as well as their creation of both solid and water waste.
Overall, there is a trend to internationalize regulations through general trade treaties, and the industry will face the challenge of looking at regulations that could be harmonized, either bilaterally with the U.S. or multilaterally through the World Trade Organization and Codex Alimentarius.
Fairly Traded Products
While coffee was the first agricultural product to be certified fair trade in 1988 Footnote 8, many other products, including tea, are among the wide variety of agricultural and handcrafted goods produced within a system of exchange that seeks to create greater equity and partnership among its members.
Farmers and workers within the fair trade system are guaranteed a minimum price for their products and work under safe conditions. Challenges to further growth include lack of infrastructure, capacity and financing at the cooperative level, limited consumer demand in North America, and quality issues. In 2008, 258,687 kilograms of labelled fairly traded tea were sold in Canada. Footnote 9
Fairly traded tea is available at retail and, in the case of foodservice, in tea houses in Canada. There is a small but growing specialty market among consumers who are concerned about the ethics of traditional tea production and harvesting practices in developing countries. In Canada and in other developed countries, these consumers are willing to pay a premium for fairly traded products.
Organic tea represents an emerging market that is showing potential for growth. Capitalizing on Canadian consumers' growing desire for organic foods and beverages that are environmentally friendly, a number of Canadian tea companies have extended the organic food movement to tea products which are marketed as high-quality products produced in a way that encourages sustainable agriculture.
As producers and retailers continue to raise awareness about organic beverages to gain market share, the coming years will see more tea manufacturers tap into this niche market as the trend toward organic and green products continues to expand in Canada and abroad. Product offerings such as organic tea and fairly traded tea products will satisfy those consumers with interests in sustainability and ethical issues.
The Organic Products Regulations came into force on June 30, 2009. These regulations aim to protect consumers against false or misleading organic claims and to support the continued growth of the Canadian organic industry. Certification to the Organic Production System standards is mandatory for products in interprovincial and international trade and for products bearing the
"Canada organic" logo. Products represented as organic must be certified by a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) - accredited certification body and must bear the name of the certification body.
The Organic Products Regulations allow for the following organic claims:
"organic": organic products with organic content of greater than 95% may be labelled
"organic"and bear the
"% organic ingredients": multi-ingredient products with 70%-95% organic product content may use the claim
"% organic ingredients"but cannot bear the
"Canada organic"logo; or,
"organic"in the list of ingredients: multi-ingredient products with less than 70% organic content may identify organic products in the ingredient list and cannot bear the
The following web sites will provide additional information:
- Organic Products Regulations
- CFIA accredited certification bodies
- Organic Production Standards
Challenges and Opportunities
In a rapidly changing climate, the tea industry as with other food processing industries must address a number of challenges if it is to continue to grow and prosper.
The concentration of major retail chains has continued to be a challenge to the tea industry and has resulted in a higher degree of competition for shelf space. For tea manufacturers, the domestic market will likely continue to be the most important market for the foreseeable future. The Canadian market is small, but sophisticated, and extremely well served which means that competition will continue to be strong.
During the past decade, the growth of warehouse club stores that emphasize value, as well as the increasing concentration of the distribution sector in general, have increased pressure on processors to reduce prices and focus on efficiencies. Furthermore, the introduction and increasing prevalence of private or own-label products by retailers have further pressured processor margins and increased retailer leverage. Although making goods for private label leaves retailers in control of the
"brand equity" resulting from consumer loyalty and leaves lower margins for processors, it has provided real growth opportunities for some small- and medium-sized processors without requiring the expenditures needed to launch their own brands. These market forces will continue to be a challenge in the future.
Although retail concentration has increased over the years, tea manufacturers enjoy a wider variety of distribution channels than many other processed food products which they must continue to exploit. The industry distributes its products through supermarkets and grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores, mass merchandisers and warehouse outlets. Restaurants and fast-food chains are also major purchasing points for tea, with some chains focussing on improving the quality of tea served while others are offering ready-to-drink iced teas. Vending is another distribution channel for tea, making it available to consumers at strategic locations. The continued growth of tea houses will offer ongoing private label and branding opportunities to Canadian tea manufacturers. Exposure to premium tea leaves at tea houses has enlightened consumers about tea quality such that consumers are now seeking these premium products at retail. Products such as iced teas have captured the interest of the youth market and have introduced these young consumers to tea, increasing the chance that they will continue to be consumers throughout their lives.
The tea industry is enjoying growth in the foodservice channel through restaurants and tea houses. To this end, the Tea Association of Canada promotes a nationally recognized tea grading standard and developed a certified tea sommelier program offered through community colleges. These initiatives address such issues as product quality, consistency, availability, awareness and education. An additional challenge for the tea industry is to find ways to improve tea servings at the foodservice takeout window.
Changing consumer demographics has resulted in changing consumer tastes and increased demand for healthy products. The tea industry has successfully increased consumer awareness of the health benefits of tea. In a move to create product extensions and greater consumer interest, the tea industry continues to work hard to add premium items and ready-to-drink formats to their line of products. This pressure will continue to come in the form of both retail and foodservice products. More and more, sophisticated consumers are aware of the health benefits of tea and the many different types of tea (from green to white). Specialty teas with super fruit infusions (e.g. cranberry, blueberry and blackberry) are generating additional consumer interest in the tea sector.
Like other food and beverage processors, the tea industry is rapidly moving with the rest of the retail packaged goods industry to using Canada's national electronic product registry/catalogue known as ECCnet, developed by the Electronic Council of Canada. The registry facilitates E-commerce by ensuring the integrity of product data using international standards of data exchange. As part of its E-commerce development, food processors are developing the capability to track and trace their products throughout the food chain to specific batches at processing plants and will eventually be able to trace batches back to their origin.
The increased variety of specialty teas and increased consumer awareness of the health benefits of drinking tea are attracting new consumers to this market. The industry has successfully connected strong consumer interest in healthy products with the restorative aspects and health benefits of tea consumption. This message has proven to be one of the industry's biggest marketing success stories. Consumers, both young and old, have rediscovered these beverages and are attracted to the many varieties - hot and cold. Although tea has historically been identified as an afternoon beverage, these new consumers will likely contribute to expanding traditional consumption patterns in the future.
Senior Market Development Officer
Food Value Chain Bureau
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C5
- Footnote 1
The number of establishments is not directly comparable to previous years.
- Footnote 2
Food Statistics, Statistics Canada Publication No. 21-020-XWE.
- Footnote 3
The Nielsen Company, MarketTrack, 52 weeks ending December 20, 2008.
- Footnote 4
Statistics Canada changed its survey methodology in year 2000 and again in 2004 such that the number of establishments and employees is not directly comparable with previous years.
- Footnote 5
Comparison of data after 2004 is difficult. Statistics Canada made methodological changes to the way it collects Principle Statistics in its Annual Survey of Manufacturers. For information see Changes Affecting Historical Comparability of Data.
- Footnote 6
North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS).
- Footnote 7
Global Trade Atlas.
- Footnote 8
Fair Trade Federation website: www.fairtradefederation.org
- Footnote 9
Transfair Canada website: http://transfair.ca/en/about-fairtrade/facts-figures
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