Chamomile Tea and Herbal Infusions
Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world after water. It derives from the tea plant “Camellia sinensis L. Kuntze” and is obtained by infusing the leaves. It is grown in more than 30 countries, but the largest production is concentrated in China, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Turkey. These countries represent about 80% of world production. Other tea producing countries include Indonesia, Japan, Tanzania, Cameroon, Vietnam and Argentina. Tea production is estimated at over 5,900,000 tonnes. Compared to other countries, the consumption of tea in Italy is very low (12 liters / year) per capita (value referring to the year 2018).
Italians mainly drink tea at breakfast. The increasing popularity of tea is linked to its pleasant taste, the fact that it is easy to make and the social aspects that are linked to its consumption. Furthermore, the increased attention to living a healthy lifestyle and psychophysical well-being, which favours natural foods, has contributed to increasing consumers curiosity about tea. Black tea remains the favourite blend, but green tea has also become increasingly popular in recent years and has met with great success. This increasing attention to health and well-being is undoubtedly the main trend in consumer behaviour. A dynamic that is also confirmed by the growing importance of products with functional characteristics. The most important growth in tea consumption is recorded in consumers aged 25-40. Distribution in Italy mainly takes place in supermarkets (51.9% of volumes sold), as it does in France.
There is an increasingly wider range of teas available in Italy. Consumers are learning that there is much more to tea and are always looking for special blends to enjoy at various times throughout the day. Of the various types of tea (classic, decaffeinated, green, fruity and white), black and green tea are the most consumed; sales of flavoured varieties are also increasing.
Herbal and fruit infusions are among the most popular and appreciated beverages in the world, thanks to their almost limitless variety and complete range of flavours to suit every taste and every occasion. Infusions are made with plants or parts of plants which do not originate from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis L. Kuntze), and are intended for food use by brewing with freshly boiling water. They also include herbal and fruit infusions that contain a small amount of tea.
The range includes both classic products made with parts of plants obtained from a single plant, for example peppermint, and blends of different herbs and/or fruit. There is also a wide range of blends to which flavourings have been added, or which are enriched with vitamins, for example. Up to 300 different plants and 400 parts of plants are used to make herbal and fruit infusions. The parts of the plant used is based on the presence of aromatic substances in the plant itself, for example the leaves of orange or peppermint plants, fruit like apples or rose hips, linden flowers or chamomile flowers. Chamomile flowers (Matricaria recutita) are used to make infusions that are famous for their multiple benefits thanks to their active ingredients. The infusions of the different herbs/plants to be infused involve the use of the leaves and flowering tops of a single herb (single-component infusion) or several herbs (multicomponent infusions) chosen for their properties. The infusion time for chamomile tea and herbal infusions varies from 4/5 minutes to over 10 minutes. The ingredients which are authorised for use in herbal and fruit infusions are listed in the “Inventory List of Herbals Considered as Food” of the European association THIE (Tea & Herbal Infusions Europe). It is a dynamic segment that records positive trends year after year, characterised by an offer that responds to the health and wellness needs of increasingly attentive modern consumers, informed about what they buy and consume, who are looking for natural products. Infusions and chamomile tea are no longer limited to domestic use or consumption in wellness centres, but also extends to establishments such as bars, pubs and restaurants, where they are offered as an alternative to other drinks. Although they are increasingly drunk at various times of the day, they are still mainly consumed in the evening before going to sleep. Alongside traditional chamomile tea, there are now infusions made with lemon balm, passion flower, fennel, etc. The trend is growing and has become part of the practices related to people’s well-being and care. Consumers are evolving: they are more and more attentive to what they buy and sensitive to the production methods used by companies, the ingredients in the products, the effects of what they consume and the “ecological footprint” they leave.
Total value of the tea, chamomile and infusions sector
Dominated by the trend of the tea segment, which - with an incidence of about 60% of the total - closed 2019 in negative both from the point of view of volumes and value, the tea, chamomile and infusions sector showed a -1.2% in volume, with 2.58 billion filters compared to 2.62 in 2018, which was accompanied by a slight loss in turnover, which reached 244 million euros with a -0.3% compared to 244.7 the previous year . The tea segment, whose market totaled about 1.5 billion filters for a value of 119 million euros in 2019, showed a loss of 3.4 points in volume and 2.2 points in value. Following this, the chamomile segment, with 279 million filters for a value of 27.2 million euros, showed a trend of stability both in volume (0.6%) and in value (0.4%). An exception, therefore, in this context, is the Infusions and herbal teas category which, with a wide range able to satisfy the needs of well-being as well as those of consumer experimentation, earns over two points in volume and value on the already rewarding result of 2018 , with 831 million filters that are worth almost 98 million euros in terms of turnover.