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The Tetley Group, the U.K.-based tea and coffee marketer, is bringing to Europe an innovation that has long been the Holy Grail of tea bag makers: a nondrip version. Tetley Tir'pres s is headed to French and Russian retailers' shelves, and the idea is to launch the drawstring bag into other European countries where consumers mainly use tea bags rather than loose tea, and commonly make tea in cups, rather than pots, using bags with strings and tags attached. Tetley won't reveal its plans, but other markets where those conditions exist include Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. The scope for this must be substantial, said Illtyd Lewis, executive director of the U.K.-based Tea Council, which is funded by the world's tea-producing countries and all U.K. blenders and producers. Despite the advent of tea bags (which came to the U.K. in 1953) and continual improvemen ts to the quality of their infusion-creating less need for a tea pot-tea still suffers from the belief that it is messy and inconvenient to make, compared with instant coffee. A string in the Tir'press bag has a tag attached, which , when torn in two, is used to pull the two ends of string apart. This action squeezes out the bag above the cup once it has been used to brew the tea and before it is discarded. A 25 bag pack costs only nine cents more than the av erage.


Tetley, the No. 2 tea company in the world behind Unilever, believes it has beaten its rivals in the race to develop a marketable nondrip bag. It has spent five years and several million dollars d eveloping the drawstring version.

This is an innovation with real benefit, said Nick Kilby, Tetley's U.K.-based manager for France. He believes it may have greater impact than the round tea bag, which took Tetley to the No.1 posi tion in the U.K. within three years with a 25% volume gain. France has been identified as the European launchpad, following Tetley Drawstring's test in Western Australia, because of Tetley's minimal 5% volume share of the 5,000 ton market, plus the French penchant for bags with string and tags, which make up 75% of the country's tea sales. In Russia, the drawstring bag is part of the launch of a range of Tetley products entering the country for the first tim e. The U.K., on the other hand, is already well developed in its taste for tea.

Tetley claims brand leadership of the $819 million tea market- and usage of the string and tag variety of bags is relatively low. Tetley confirms the U.K . is not an initial priority for drawstrings. Tetley-currently fourth in the French market behind Unilever's Lipton, R.Twining & Co and Unilever's flavored tea brand Éléphant- aims to double its market share in France to 10% within a year. It hopes to appeal to rival brand users or people who drink tea infrequently because of the inconvenience, rather than to convert its existing consumers.

Promotion via D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Paris, will kick off in March with a TV and women's print campaign and in-store sampling. In Russia, DMB&B is running a general Tetley campaign.

The French Tir'Press TV commercial shows an English aristocrat in his castle having tea. Despite the fact that it is raining inside the room, he carefully

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