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28th International Food Exhibition
24–27 September 2019 • Crocus Expo, Moscow, Russia

Where does Russia rank in Europe’s biggest tea drinkers?

Think vodka is Russia’s national drink? Think again. By sheer popularity, tea is by far and away Russia’s favourite beverage.
Where does Russia rank in Europe’s biggest tea drinkers?
98% of Russians drink tea regularly. Tea drinking is an immovable part of Russian culture – one that has endured for centuries.
For exporters, Russia is a multi-million-dollar market, and a big component in Europe’s $4 billion total tea revenues.
Total Europe-wide consumption is an estimated 0.4kg per capita – but there are many nations whose tea drinking habits far outweighs the European average. Consumption of tea throughout the continent is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 1.6% between now and 2021, so which nations are expected to be behind this growth? And where exactly does Russia fit in?
Note: to work out the volume of tea consumed across Europe, we used the kilograms per capita figure, multiplied by the country's population, divided by a thousand. This gave us a figure in tons.

The ten biggest tea consumers in Europe

1. Turkey – 246,000 tons/year 
Coming in at number one as Europe’s biggest tea fanatics, consuming an average of 246,000 tons of annually, is Turkey. Roughly, that means each Turk yearly consumes 3.1kg of tea– that’s the equivalent of 1,000 cups of tea per Turk per year!
Much like in Russia, tea is integral to Turkish culture, and is just simply a part of everyday life for the majority of the population. It’s no surprise, really, as Turkey is actually responsible for 5% of the world’s entire tea output, harvesting 225,000 tons annually.
2. Russia – 187, 590 tons/year
Hot on the heels of Turkey, and coming in second place amongst Europe’s tea-quaffing champions, is Russia: home of WorldFood Moscow. However, as Turkey is a top five global tea producer (and Russia isn’t), it actually holds the crown for something more important: tea imports.
Simply put, Russia is the largest annual importer of tea anywhere in the world.
That’s right exporters: tea import markets don’t come bigger than Russia’s. In 2016, the nation imported $548 million worth of tea. During that year, Russians bought $2.9 billion worth of teas and tea products, so if you’re a producer on the hunt for new markets, have you considered Russia?
For more information, see this handy infographic on the Russian tea & coffee market.
3. UK – 124,640 tons/year
No rundown of European tea drinkers would be complete without the UK; a nation that has gone to the very ends of the Earth (and back) to secure supplies of its favourite drink. By consuming 124,640 tons of tea annually, the UK takes the last podium position in Europe’s tea rankings.
Strangely, tea is actually losing ground in the UK. Mintel noted a drop in sales from £699m in 2010 to £654m by 2015. Could the end of the great British cup of tea be in sight? Probably not, but it suggests other markets, like the mighty Russia, hold better long-term potential for exporters.
4. Germany – 49,500 tons/year
Falling way outside of the top three is Germany: a nation of 82.6 million people. Since 2011, German tea consumption has risen at a rate of 1.1% - although they’ll need to drink a lot more cups to compete with Europe’s tea titans.
Germany’s tea market is saturated with brands offering conventional black teas, so speciality varieties and artisanal teas are now vying for market share. Premiumisation is the top market trend, as Germans are sticklers for quality in everything they do. Why should tea be any different?
5. Poland – 34,110 tons/year
Poland’s consumption of 34,110 tons of tea per year makes it amongst the largest tea markets in Europe. Poles do love their tea, and drink it regularly. Black tea, much like in Germany, is a firm favourite, although fruits, herbals, and green teas are making headway there.
But how much headway are they making? Coffee sales have grown 80% throughout Poland across the last decade, making it seem like Poland's old favourite is losing its grip on the nation. That said, Euromonitor predicts Polish tea values will grow at a CAGR of 2% at the end of the decade, so it might not be all doom and gloom.
6. Ukraine – 22,500 tons/year
Ukraine’s are heavy tea drinkers, and the market is growing in both volume and value terms by 2% and 7% respectively. Ukraine mirrors some of its Central and Eastern European cousins as black tea dominates. 84% of tea drank in Ukraine is black, with green tea filling the remaining 16%.
While the usual suppliers, (China, India, Sri Lanka, and China) make up most of Ukraine’s tea suppliers, other nations’ produce is coming. Sales of Azerbaijani tea rose in 2017, for example, after Azerbaijani companies invested in new points of sale throughout Ukraine.
7. The Netherlands – 11,900 tons/year
Despite being pioneers in bringing tea to Europe, the Netherland’s consumption of the storied drink pales in comparison to others on this list. Its tea preferences are also a little different. For example, the UK generally prefers its tea milky and white. Not so in the Netherlands. The Dutch take their teas infused with various flavours instead.
Douwe Egberts Nederland BV is the country’s top brand, although its products tend to hold biggest shares in sectors that are posting lower growth rates. Pickwick, a Douwe Egbert’s brand, is the market leader in black tea, but flavoured teas are gaining ground and lowering Pickwick’s market share.
8. Ireland – 9,870 tons/year
Even though the Irish consume an average of 2.1kg of tea per capita every year, its population of just 4.7 million means its total tea tonnage puts it towards the bottom end of Europe’s top ten. Still, in terms of individual consumption, Ireland punches above its wait.
Domestic brands are Ireland’s teas of choice, with Lyon’s Tea and Barry’s Tea being the big two. In fact, in something of an upset, Barry’s overtook Lyon’s as Ireland’s preferred brand for the first time in 2016 after being voted higher on Irish food retail magazine Checkout’s annual Top 100 Brands Survey.
9. Switzerland – 3,320 tons/year
Coffee is more the Swiss’ style when it comes to hot drinks, but Switzerland still makes its way into the top ten tea consuming nations in Europe. Why? It may be due to the perception of tea changing throughout Switzerland.
According to Euromonitor, Swiss consumers are integrating health and wellness trends into their daily routines. Tea has been identified as a healthy drink, especially green flavours, so more Swiss are drinking it daily to help keep fit.
10. Czech Republic – 3,150 tons/year
A top trend in the Czech tea market is a rise in popularity for herbal teas nationwide, thanks to their perceived health benefits. Herbal tea is considered to help fight colds and improve digestion amongst Czech drinkers, which is helping this market segment gain traction.
The market itself remains fragmented. Only one player, Jacob Douwe Egberts CZ, has a market share of above 15%, holding a 16% stake. The next largest brand is Tata Global Beverages Czech Republic with a 13% value share, followed by Teekanne with 11%.

Russia: the world’s biggest tea importer

Russia is a global tea powerhouse, and for exporters there is no bigger market. Worldwide producers, be sure to delve deep into Russia to take advantage of its incredible potential – including $548 million annually in imports.
If you want to meet the buyers behind this massive spending, then exhibit at WorldFood Moscow 2018. As Russia’s leading food and drink exhibition, it is the only place to meet, network, and do business with thousands of Russian tea importers, including retail chains, HoReCa sector representatives, wholesalers, and many more food and drink professionals.
For more information on your participation opportunities, contact our team today.