Tea may be the world's most consumed beverage in terms of volume, but as far as retail sales go, it still falls short of its peers like coffee and carbonates.
The world consumed a whopping 290 billion liters of tea in 2012, but that translated to just $40.7 billion in retail sales, compared to $75.7 billion for coffee and $183 billion in carbonates for the same period, according to data from Euromonitor.
The research firm says the tea industry could be on a cusp of a major consumption shift which, if capitalized opportunistically, could result in a boom similar to the coffee craze seen in the past decade that spawned ubiquitous brands like Starbucks.
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Euromonitor cites changing consumer preferences in emerging markets, which could herald changes in the demand for tea.
"Consumers are switching from unpackaged tea sold in rural, open-air marketplaces to branded, packaged teas sold in more modern retail outlets," said the report.
While traditional drinkers maintain a preference for local brands and flavors, there is a strong demand for convenience, making instant tea's growth potential "comparable to instant coffee's global dominance" it added.