June 10, 2021
On June 10th, we celebrate an American staple. While hot dogs and hamburgers may come to mind (and rightfully so), Americans also have a love affair with tea, consuming 3.8 billion gallons of it in 2019 (85% of which was iced tea). Introduced in the 1870s, iced tea was first seen as a novelty but gained popularity fairly quickly to become one of America’s favorite non-alcoholic beverages.
With more than 20,000 different kinds of teas in the world, there are endless blends and recipes to choose from when you want a cold, refreshing drink. So, with a nod to tea’s Asian origins and British aficionados, let’s take a look at some of the publicly traded producers of iced tea, a fine American beverage.
Sir Thomas Lipton was among the first to help spread tea to people from all walks of life. He engineered new and less expensive ways to package and transport tea to make it more accessible. Later, the company he founded would bring their iced tea powder to the U.S. in 1964. Lipton, a Unilever PLC (Tii:UL) brand, is America’s top-selling iced tea. Sold through a joint venture between Unilever and PepsiCo, Inc. (Tii:PEP), Lipton teas generated sales of $3.64 billion.
Though Arizona Beverage Company – the producer of America’s second-highest selling brand of iced tea – is owned by privately held Hornell Brewing Co., Inc., Molson Coors Beverage Company (Tii:TAP) distributes its line of hard teas. AriZona Hard Green Tea, a 5% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) tea made with premium vodka, rolled out across Ontario and Western Canada in 2020. Molson also distributes Arnold Palmer Spiked Half & Half, a blend of iced tea and lemonade with 5% ABV, made famous by the legendary golfer.
The Coca-Cola Company (Tii:KO) launched Gold Peak Tea in 2006. Since then, it has become the third-largest seller in the canned and bottled iced tea category. Coca-Cola also manufactures the popular Nestea brand of iced teas, which Swiss multinational food conglomerate Nestlé S.A owns. With more than 30 flavors, the Snapple brand of iced teas is another popular brand in the U.S. Owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc. (Tii:KDP), the brand was founded in 1972 by Leonard Marsh, Hyman Golden, and Arnold Greenberg in Brooklyn. World-famous for its brand of coffees and coffee shops that are ubiquitous urban mainstays,
Starbucks Corporation (Tii:SBUX) has also made forays into the tea world. The company, which acquired Teavana Corporation for an estimated $620 million, operated 379 Teavana locations in malls before announcing in 2017 it would shutter those operations. That same year, Starbucks sold Tazo Tea Company to Unilever for $384 million. However, tea enthusiasts may still find Teavana iced teas in Starbucks locations.
With annual gross sales of approximately $100 million, Celestial Seasonings is a major tea producer whose offerings include herbal, green, white, chai, and black teas. The Hain Celestial Group Inc. (Tii:HAIN) subsidiary purchases more than 100 natural herbs, teas, spices and botanicals from over 35 countries—from Egyptian chamomile to Oregon peppermint. In keeping with its mission, Celestial purchases most of its ingredients directly from the farmers and communities that grow them.
With the number of flavor innovations and tea styles continuing to evolve, IBISWorld predicts tea industry revenue to reach $6.5 billion in 2023. So, as you sip your favorite blend this National Iced Tea Day, be sure to toast Sir Thomas Lipton and all the early brewers of this wonderful novelty beverage that has lasted nearly 150 years.
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