Royal Wessanen bought Clipper from private equity player FF&P in 2012 - sales were circa. £14.5m in 2013 up 7.3% year-on-year against an overall market decline of 1.6% - but the UK’s No.1 fairtrade, organic tea brand was founded in 1984 by husband and wife Mike and Elaine Brehme in Dorset.
Rebecca Vercoe, Clipper Teas marketing manager, tells BeverageDaily.com that the brand, which has its own factory in Beaminster, Dorset that produces almost 1bn teabags a year, sees itself as “one of the good guys of tea” along with firms such as Taylors of Harrogate, which counts Yorkshire Tea among its brands.
The Brehmes began by selling Assam tea made in their kitchen at a time when, Vercoe says, the public was looking for something different, “but some of the single estate teas being sold were just rubbish”.
“The UK is a nation of tea drinkers, but amazingly, some people are unaware that what they are drinking tastes rubbish in comparison to some of the good quality mainstream teas out there," she adds.
Beyond this self-punitive behavior though, lies hope...
"However this is changing as people look for great taste and ethical behaviour from their tea brand," Vercoe says.
Step forward Clipper. The Brehmes worked closely with estates and gardens upon a firm ethical base – preventing child labor and ensuring quality, and were instrumental in helping found the UK Fairtrade Foundation in 1992.
UK tea drinkers go green, try infusions...
Clipper launched the first ever green tea into UK supermarkets in 1996 – it is currently the UK’s No.2 green brand after Twinings, and Vercoe says the nation's green tea market "went nuts" in 2013 with sales of £27.961m compared with £23.353m in 2012.
In the 18 months since the Wessanen takeover, Clipper has launched green teas and infusions into The Netherlands, Germany and France, and Vercoe explains that the UK green tea market is tiny compared to, say, France, where 2013 sales totalled £78m and drinkers are more experimental.