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Morrisons has increased the shelf price of more than 20 Twinings SKUs

Brits face paying more for a warming cuppa this winter as supermarket tea prices begin rising to reflect higher ingredient costs.

Dozens of black tea, fruit tea and herbal infusions SKUs, mostly from well-known brands, have faced price hikes in the mults over the past 12 months [Edge by Ascential w/e 52 7 November 2019].

Morrisons last month upped the shelf price of six Tetley tea lines, for example. A 100g pack of the brand’s Decaf teabags is now £2.15 from £1.76, while the 250g pack has increased from £2.60 to £2.85. A 250g pack of Tetley Original teabags is up 23p to £2.65.

Morrisons has also increased the shelf price of more than 20 Twinings SKUs. The brand’s 40g pack of Assam bags went up 25p last month to £3.25. It followed a 20p increase earlier this year for Twinings Aromatics Earl Grey Decaffeinated (125g) to £4.50, and small (2p and 3p) rises for infusions such as 50g Pure Green, 40g Cranberry & Blood Orange, and 30g Lemon & Ginger.

Pukka Herbs, meanwhile, has been subject to price rises in Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s since the summer. The brand’s 40g Lemon, Ginger & Manuka and 30g Peppermint & Licorice are up as much as 50p on average, while Pukka has also seen price increases on its 32g Organic Three Mint, 30g Mint Matcha Green and 40g Original Chai in the mults.

Peter Dries, director of customer and shopper marketing for Tetley, insisted retail prices were “at the discretion of retailers” and stressed tea was still “a great-value beverage.”

However, a spokeswoman for Pukka said the brand had been forced to increased cost prices to retailers due to higher raw materail costs.

“In line with price increases of our high-quality organic herbs - that are subject to global supply and demand changes - and the premium paid for sourcing fairly and packaging our teas sustainably, the costs to produce Pukka’s organic herbal teas have risen, and this is reflected in our increased cost prices to retailers,” she said.

Despite these price rises, average supermarket prices for tea are actually down 2% year on year - largely driven by promotional activity. Asda has seen the greatest average decrease of 8p, but the other four big grocers are also showing lower average prices.

But further increases could be on the horizon. In May, a Mintec report predicted that the price of tea from the three largest producing countries was set to rise by as much as 40% - largely as the result of reduced production in Kenya, the world’s largest exporter of tea. It estimated Kenyan tea would become 15% to 20% dearer in the ensuing six months - to as much as £2 per kilo.

Latest figures from Mintec show, in fact, that Kenya’s top grade of tea was £2.34 a kilo in mid-October, although it had dipped 4.5% month on month.