The industry has given an enthusiastic welcome to the concept of the London Tea Show, a new trade exhibition which will take place at the Business Design Centre, in Islington, London, on 24-25 March next year.
The new two-day event is aimed at buyers within the foodservice and retail sectors and will see products being showcased from exhibitors, ranging from tea growers and importers to equipment suppliers and manufacturers of brewing equipment and ancillary products.
The show will present the finals of the Tea Brewers Championships, and a programme of workshops and talks delivered by a host of internationally recognised experts.
"The great thing about tea as a catering product is that it works profitably on many levels," remarked Steve Slark, chairman of the Beverage Standards Association. "The tea sector offers creative opportunities throughout the trade.
"There is still potential for increasing tea sales in all catering sectors. The greatest media publicity always goes to the upmarket ‘afternoon tea' sector, dominated by the London hotels; however, I have seen ‘afternoon tea' profitably promoted at a corner café, offering their own version of the standard menu of sandwiches and scones with jam, at well under £10. I see themed ‘afternoon teas' opening up big new business, and there are now ‘takeaway tea' services, and ‘to your door or office' afternoon tea services.
"There is still more profitability to be won from the classic British cuppa, with great potential for promoting really good tea, served in proper china from a proper Brown Betty, at a more profitable price. And recently, green tea and chai, and iced tea and herbal infusions, have all established themselves as profit-makers in the market," he added.
The BSA has suggested that a dedicated show will help caterers overcome some of the problems which have recently been highlighted in the hospitality sector.
"Several research projects have shown that consumers do not like much of the tea which is served out-of-home. A lot of the problem comes from a careless attitude to tea by the trade – those top coffee houses who still serve tea in a mug, with the bag string hanging over the side, are just throwing opportunity away. All the surveys say that if catering tea were better, customers would drink more of it away from home, and would be happy to pay a better price for it."
Several brands have agreed that a dedicated exhibition and talking-shop is timely, for focussing the trade's attention on how to work best with our national drink.
"Tea has played second fiddle to coffee at trade shows," said Andy Byron of Teapigs. "If tea brands and speakers are given a decent platform to talk about how the industry is dealing with sustainability issues, provenance and up-to-date consumer tea trends, then we can expect it to be a success."
At Novus Tea, managing director Allan Pirret said: "We welcome a dedicated tea exhibition that celebrates the fast-growing ‘out of home' speciality tea sector and gives tea the voice it deserves. The sooner we move away from poor tea experiences, the better!"
The London Tea Show is at the Business Design Centre on 24 and 25 March 2020, and is organised by Living Media Events, the organisers of Caffe Culture, in partnership with the UK Tea Academy.