Tea still top tipple for Russians

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Tea

Tea rivals vodka in the affection of Russian consumers, it seems,
with a new survey showing that 98 per cent of the population drink
the beverage on a regular basis - on average, at least two cups a
day. But while consumption levels have been static for several
years, coffee has yet to close the gap, writes Angela
Drujinina.

The survey, carried out each year by Mai, the biggest producer and supplier of tea on the Russian market with share of 41 per cent, polled more than 2,100 Russians of various ages, professions, and income levels. It showed that tea remains an integral part of most Russians' daily routine.

According to the Mai survey, 84 per cent of Russians drink tea at home more than anywhere else, and the beverage is the most popular accompaniment to meals. However, its status as the most popular breakfast drink appears to be waning, not least because Russian lifestyles are becoming more hectic, leaving less and less time for breakfast at home.

Market data suggests that Russians drink about 500 cups of tea a year, a level which has remained constant for several years, suggesting that changes in consumption patterns are not, in fact, leading to increased sales. At the same time, coffee consumption has grown steadily, although at just 160 cups per capita, annual intake is still some way behind that of tea.

Black tea remains the most popular variety - the top choice for some 86 per cent of those questioned - but the frequency of consumption appears to be in steady decline. Increasing disposable incomes have prompted Russian consumers to experiment with less well-known tea varieties, such as green tea or flavoured teas.

Green tea is proving particularly popular because of its numerous health benefits - everything from cancer and liver damage to pneumonia and weight loss - and while the product has been available in Russia for some time, it has traditionally been expensive for most consumers' budgets. But as income levels rise, more people are able to afford the once-premium product, fuelling further growth.

Tea is not simply a drink to most Russians - it is a ritual. As a result, the popularity of tea bags has remained low, but increasingly hectic lifestyles have led to a dramatic shift in consumer demand and rising interest in easy-to-prepare products.

Some 50 per cent of Russians still believe that tea bags are simply for those people too busy to prepare their tea properly, according to the survey, but most respondents also said that they were no longer wary of the convenient packaging format, suggesting further growth could be forthcoming in the future.

Nonetheless, leaf tea is still considered by most Russians to be the tastiest, the best for their health and of the highest quality.

Market analysts Mosvneshinform told Cee-foodindustry.com​ that more than 70 per cent of all tea brands on the Russian market today are in the low price range, with just 5 per cent retailing for a premium price.

Muscovites are among the lowest tea consumers in Russia, with 69 per cent of the capital's residents drinking tea several times a day and 22.4 per cent only once. In the provinces, consumption is much higher: in Novosibirsk, for instance, some 77.6 per cent of people drink tea several times a day, while in Ufa it is 80 per cent and in Omsk 88.2 per cent.

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