Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Iced tea packs health benefits and profits

The summer months in the South can be brutal. Temperatures in Louisiana can get high enough to melt a steering wheel (yes, we’ve seen it happen) and buckle roadways (a common summer occurrence). Iced tea is highly consumed by southerners not only for its taste, but it also packs a laundry list of healthy benefits.

Tea has antioxidants which can lower LDL cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. It can also prevent the formation of potential carcinogens in the body, reduce acne, increase bone strength, is a great digestive aid, hones mental focus, boosts memory, stimulates metabolism and studies have shown the tannins have the ability to fight viruses such as influenza by boosting immune response.
We love iced tea and sweet iced tea in Louisiana, and at the Louisiana Restaurant Association, and it is one of the most popular non-alcoholic beverages ordered in restaurants. It’s not only a refreshing liquid option for customers; it’s also highly profitable for restaurants. The average pitcher of iced tea averages about $0.06 in most of the country, based on ½ gallon of water and two tea bags.  With the average cost for a glass of tea being $1.50, there’s a significant benefit for restaurants to serve it. The profitability percentage decreases when sugar is added.

In the June 2012 American Express Marketing Brief featuring “What diners are Drinking as Spring Heats Up,” 25 percent of those surveyed responded that they had purchased an iced tea from a restaurant at least once in the past month and 99 percent said they were more likely to purchase the beverage during the summer.  
Of the iced tea drinkers polled by American Express in May, six out of 10 reported drinking it at least once a week and 21 percent said they did their consuming in restaurants.

Ordering iced tea in restaurants often comes with free refills which also impacts the restaurant’s profitability. However, of all the offerings it maintains the highest profit margins in the beverage category.
The survey also indicated that consumers are increasing their favor for flavored iced teas and 28 percent of respondents said they were very likely to order it, if it is offered. Berry was the highest ranked for consumer’s likelihood to order at 90 percent, followed closely by peach (85 percent) and mango (81 percent).

The survey also revealed that 51 percent preferred iced tea served in a glass and brought to the table versus 27 percent who found it appealing to serve from a pitcher tableside. Accompaniments widely varied, but nearly one half of iced tea drinkers preferred a lemon wedge and 37 percent added sugar and a resounding 63 percent used an artificial sweetener such as Splenda, Sweet N Low, Equal/NutraSweet or Truvia.
This begs the question “how do you take your iced tea?”

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