Chocolate, wine and tea: Gourmet foods ride the recession into massive growth


While the recession has sent sales of most luxury items into a sharp tailspin, many upscale foods are transforming the downturn in consumer spending into an opportunity to increase market share. For purveyors of mid-market chocolate, tea, and wine, the consumer move from big spending to more connoisseur-based purchases is translating a recession into big business.

Tea, for example, offers many consumers a low-priced indulgence that can comfortably take the place of more expensive pleasures. For tea aficionados, the price point is pretty reasonable: gourmet teas only cost about 30 percent more than their non-gourmet counterparts. At upscale gourmet market Dean and Deluca, this translates into prices that range from $6.50 for a box of tea bags to $35 for 3.5 ounces of Lung Ching Jade tea. While the most expensive tea in the world, Tieguanyin, tops out at $1500 per pound, it is quite possible to amass a solid tea collection for the price of a few Starbucks venti lattes.

Originally published