PG Tips monkey

PG Tips’ range of green, fruit and herbal infusions has been delisted by Tesco and Asda, delivering a blow to the Unilever brand’s bid to counter declining black tea sales with fruit and herbal NPD.

Tesco removed the range from shelves earlier this year, while Asda delisted it last month, according to research by The Grocer using data from Brand View. The range is now available only through Morrisons and Ocado, although a single green tea SKU is also available in Waitrose.

At the same time, rivals Tetley and Twinings have gained new listings in Tesco and Asda for their green and fruity brews. Asda has also added two green tea SKUs from Unilever’s Pure Tea lineup of ethically sourced brews, as well as some SKUs from Tea Pigs.

It comes as fruit and herbal teas become increasingly important in a category hit by a 3.9% drop in value sales last year [Nielsen 52 w/e 8 October 2016], driven by dwindling black tea sales as Brits expand their hot drinks repertoire.

PG Tips, Britain’s number one tea brand, suffered the biggest blow, losing £11.2m in sales as black tea volumes plummeted [Nielsen 52 w/e 31 December 2016], with its only growth coming from fruit, herbal and green teas, where value sales increased 18.5%.

Twinings, which overhauled its fruit and green tea range last year, suffered a more modest sales dip of £1m, while Tetley enjoyed £3.1m growth after its Super range of functional teas - including Super Green and Super Fruit - delivered a strong performance.

Tesco and Asda are still stocking PG Tips black teas, with Asda adding the brand’s Assam Pyramid Teabags, Earl Grey, and English Breakfast Pyramid Teabags in March, as well as a range of black tea SKUs from Unilever’s Pure Tea range.

Unilever, Tesco and Asda did not comment. However, responding to a customer query on Twitter last week, PG Tips said: “Our fruit, herbal and green tea range can now only be found in Morrisons and Ocado.”