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How has the demand for decaffeinated coffee fared in the age of Covid?

We’ve all been looking for silver linings this past year and are happy to report that speciality decaf coffee continued its long-term consumption growth trend in an otherwise unpredictable 2020.

For example, the demand for decaffeinated coffee in the USA increased by over 9% versus three years ago and that was for decaf coffee in general. For speciality decaffeinated coffee, like Swiss Water Decaf, the growth war far higher.

Across the US and Europe, speciality decaf consumption represents an estimated 8.7 billion cups annually and decaffeinated coffee represents 15% of cups consumed in the US and 12% of cups consumed in Europe.

Why is this?

Whilst we don’t have data on the exact drivers of this continued growth in 2020 specifically, we do know enough about coffee drinkers’ behaviour to have our theories as follows:

  • The pandemic saw more people at home during the workday, with consumption at home increasing by more than 15% in Europe as well as the U.S.—whereas in recent years it had been essentially flat.
  • This represented a growth opportunity for decaf coffee brands able to sell more decaffeinated coffee online and, even expand in grocery, in response to new habits.
  • During this stressful time, many people were consuming more coffee for ritual and comfort throughout the day, but found that they were getting too wired to drink more caffeinated coffee.
  • So, coffee drinkers were increasingly choosing to drink decaf so that they could enjoy coffee all day - whereas consumption of regular coffee tends to peak in the morning and drop off as the day progresses.
  • Indeed, decaf has played a strong role in the past year as people reached their caffeine limits and also looked for more ways to improve sleep and decrease anxiety.
  • More 2020 trends that are expected to continue include a focus on functional beverages and a desire for fewer caffeine induced jitters that will have consumers exploring new approaches to their daily brew.
  • Experts predict that many of the behaviour shifts we’re seeing during the pandemic are expected to last a long time and particularly those that reduce anxiety and promote mental well-being such as decaffeinated coffee.

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