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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 September 2005, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Indian firm 'eyes Typhoo tea bid'
Cup of tea being poured from a steel kettle
Britons are turning away from their traditional cup of tea
Typhoo tea is on the shopping list of Indian industrial group Apeejay Surrendra, the Times of India reports.

Apeejay Surrendra wants to buy Typhoo from the UK's Premier Foods for less than 100m ($182m), the paper said.

Typhoo is one of the UK's main tea brands. Rivals include PG Tips, owned by Unilever, and Tetley owned by Tata.

Premier is looking at ways of sprucing up its brand portfolio at a time when tea sales are falling and consumers are turning to coffee and bottled water.

Premier, which owns other well-known names including Bird's Custard, Branston pickle and Ambrosia, declined to comment on the press reports that said a UK company was also lining up a bid.

Easy drinking

Analysts say that big brand teas, such as Typhoo, are in a difficult position.

Younger drinkers are drinking less tea, while many of those that still enjoy a cuppa are turning towards herbal infusions or specialist, top-of-the-range brews.

Brands like Typhoo are somewhat stuck in the middle, easily recognisable but often left on the shelf in favour of products with a sparklier image.

In India, however, demand is still strong and local companies have already ventured abroad on a shopping spree.

Back in 2000, India's Tata paid 271m for the Tetley brand and Apeejay Surrendra is reported to have just as big a thirst for expansion.

The company has its own plantations, employing more than 40,000 people and producing close to 25 million kg of tea a year.

One of India's biggest producers, it also sells its teas in Harrods of London.

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