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Page last updated at 19:14 GMT, Friday, 3 June 2005 20:14 UK

More tea vicar?

Everyone knows how they like their tea.

And in recent years we've had more choice about how and what we drink.

One company who has played a part in broadening the market are Clipper teas.


The company was started 20 years ago by husband and wife Mike and Lorraine Brehme.

Mike had worked in the tea industry before and with just 50 they bought two chests of tea and sold them to local health food shops in the Dorset area.

Twenty one years on and their factory in Beaminster in Dorset employs over 80 staff.

They produce 95 varieties of tea with upto two million tea bags made per day.

Personal passions

Clipper use only natural flavourings and packaging which is biodegradable or recycleble.

The company specialises in organic and Fairtrade products.

The direction of the company came from a personal passion and they were one of the trailblazers for the Fairtrade industry.

"When we started there was no market for organic or Fairtrade products," says managing director Mike.

Because of Mike's passion for trading ethically he worked for free for two years with the Fairtrade foundation to establish ways of supporting communties in Asia growing tea.

"We approached the Fairtrade Foundation which was just beginning and helped establish a proper criteria," says Mike.

"Fairtrade is about not having child labour, fair conditions and reasonable pay.

"The first thing we look for in an area is the quality of the tea. We approach the estate and talk about the Fairtrade process," adds Mike.


Having established themselves as a supermarket brand in the UK the next frontier for Clipper is abroad.

Ten years ago 2% of their trade came from overseas, now it's 10%.

The US market is their biggest target.

"In the US there is a much broader distribution network, with many independent retailers, who are looking to compete on variety and choice," says Mike.

"In the UK there is less choice because of the domination of a few large mutiples who want to focus less on food or drink products," adds Mike.

Clipper wants to continue to be a pioneer in the tea market.

From Fairtrade to fresh blends it's already made its mark.

The challenge now is to continue to stay ahead of the market and pick out the next flavours and fashions we'll fancy for our cuppa.

Student Guide

Mike and Lorraine Brehme started Clipper teas with 50.

They bought organic tea, bagged it up and sold it to health food shops.

Today they make 2m tea bags a day.

After 20 years, Mike is still excited by teas and is always on the lookout for new ideas and new tastes.

The 80 staff at the factory in Beaminster, Dorset produce over 95 varieties of tea.

Just think...

Why do you think the company has developed so many ranges of tea?

Why has the market changed?

Not long ago most tea was Indian and people drank it with milk and sugar.

It had developed a boring reputation as something older people drank.

Coffee had become the new cool - but fashions change.

The introduction of different flavoured teas such as liquorice, orange and coconut or raspberry leaf has changed the market.

Tea, in its new mode, has become fashionable again.

Many of them are thought to do you good. Camomile is relaxing, fennel is good for the digestion.

Others just taste nice.

Just think...

Why has the demand for different sorts of tea increased?

Can you think of other examples of products which have shown a change in demand resulting from a change in fashion?

Getting richer?

All sorts of factors make demand change.

As people make more money they have more to spend so they buy more.

Some things don't change much, even when people get very rich - other change dramatically.

Just think...

What sort of things don't change much when people get richer?

What sort of things do people buy more of when they get rich?

New technology

As more people buy iPods, what happens to demand for the Walkman?

There's been a change in technology and music lovers no longer need to carry all those CDs with them.

They have the tracks they have chosen all stored on one tiny machine - so why would they want a Walkman?

Just think...

What other changes in demand have happened because of changes in technology?

How do you think hi-tech companies respond to such changes?

A yearly pattern?

Clipper teas may see a seasonal pattern to its sales.

Do they sell more hot chocolate in the winter than the summer?

Are fresh tasting teas sold more in summer?

We use more gas and electricity in winter than summer.

Longer nights and cold weather mean we spend more on heating and lighting.

Just think...

What other products show a seasonal pattern of demand?

The shape of the population

The UK population is growing older.

People are living longer and fewer babies are being born - so the pattern of things we buy changes.

The demand for baby products falls and demand for products bought by older people increases.

Just think...

What sort of products are likely to increase in demand and fall in demand as the population ages?

Not quite so simple...

Many products are affected by more than one factor at a time.

There is great demand for Saga holidays which are exclusively for the over 50s.

But there is no decline in 18-30 holidays - despite the falling number of people in the age group. Why?

Is it perhaps because the 18-30s are growing richer and more of them can afford holidays abroad?

Just think...

Can you think of other examples of products which are affected by more than one factor that influences demand?

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