UK – Unilever, a consumer-packaged foods firm, has announced that its tea brand Tazo is set to launch new blends, including alcohol-free tea concentrates and ‘energy management’ tea bags.

Tazo’s mixology concentrates come in Berry Hibiscus Margarita, with strawberry, hibiscus and lime and Ginger Lime Moscow Mule, with green tea, lime juice and a kick of ginger.

According to the Washington-based brand, the concentrates can be mixed with water or seltzer to make a flavourful tea-based mocktail or cocktail.

Tazo has also released two tea blends which it says help in managing energy levels: Energize features citrus, guarana, ginseng and green tea; and Dream blends valerian root, lavender, passionflower and almond.

In 2017, Tazo was acquired by Unilever from Starbucks in a US$384 million deal. In addition to tea bags, the brand’s range includes ready-to-drink bottled teas, K-Cup pods, and liquid concentrates for chai, matcha, turmeric and other lattes.

Both of Tazo’s latest lines will be available in the US, for an RRP of US$3.99, from August. The mixology concentrates will be found at Walmart, while the Energize and Dream blends will be available from grocery stores and online.

Meanwhile, Unilever has recorded a smaller than expected drop of 0.3% in its second-quarter underlying sales, as a strong performance in North America helped to offset the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The owner of Ben & Jerry’s, Marmite and Hellmann’s reported turnover of US$12.3 billion during the quarter, representing a fall of 3.1%, which underpinned a year-over-year decline in overall first-half turnover of 1.6%.

Underlying sales fell across Unilever’s Europe and Asia/AMET/RUB segments in Q2, while the Americas witnessed underlying sales growth of 5.2%.

A decline of 0.8% in Latin America, where coronavirus hit later and the impact of the pandemic on Unilever has so far been concentrated in Q2, was more than offset by the 9.5% rise in underlying sales seen in North America.

“Performance during the first half has shown the true strength of Unilever. We have demonstrated the resilience of the business – in our portfolio, in a continued step-up in operational excellence, and in our financial position – and we have unlocked new levels of agility in responding to unprecedented fluctuations in demand,” Commenting on the results, Unilever CEO Alan Jope said.

“From the start of the Covid-19 crisis, we have been guided by clear priorities in line with our multi-stakeholder business model to protect our people, safeguard supply, respond to new patterns of consumer demand, preserve cash, and support our communities.

“Our focus for the rest of 2020 will continue to be volume-led competitive growth, absolute profit and cash delivery as this is the best way to maximise shareholder value,” he said.

In the first half of the year, Unilever says that e-commerce sales leapt 49% and the company saw ‘double digit growth’ in its retail foods business. Out-of-home ice cream sales declined by nearly 30%, a trend that was already having a major impact in Q1, and food service sales by around 40%.

Unilever has been exploring options for its tea business, which includes brands such as PG Tips and Lipton, with a strategic review, launched earlier this year.

The company now says that it will retain its operations in India and Indonesia, as well as its partnership interests in ready-to-drink tea joint ventures. The rest of Unilever’s tea business will be separated into an independent entity.

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