Future rosie for off-trade cider as £1.2 billion category’s appeal broadens

  • Fourth edition of Westons Cider Report reveals off-trade hotspots for cider in 2019
  • Westons’ fruit cider projection has been revised as fruit cider’s stock continues to rise
  • Sustainability, packaging and the changing face of cider drinkers all driving interest in increasingly dynamic category

Click here to download the report

Cider is primed to once again play a key role in driving sales for off-trade outlets of all shapes and sizes throughout 2019 as the category’s appeal continues to broaden amongst shoppers, and almost half of all households are now buying cider[1].

That’s the conclusion of the Westons Cider Report 2019 following another year of impressive growth for cider in the off-trade, with sales now touching £1.2 billion as value sales grew by +5.3%, with volumes up +2.8% to 529 million litres.

“Cider has once again made a huge contribution to sales in the off-trade across all retail formats and we see no sign of this changing,” explains Matthew Langley, Insight and Innovation Manager at Westons Cider. “Some 47.8% of all households now regularly buy cider – up from 45.5% last year – whilst the number of cider shoppers has also risen, by +3.8%.

“Even more encouragingly, value has continued to outpace volume which clearly signals how drinkers are continuing to trade up to more premium ciders, whilst new exclusive research commissioned by Westons Cider for this year’s report reveals that the breadth of cider drinkers also continues to widen. All these factors are clearly good news for the category’s long-term prospects.” 

GROWTH HOTSPOTS

In line with the category’s consistent record of adding greater value sales for retailers, the cider category’s Crafted, Mainstream and Premium sectors continue to contribute all growth, whilst Value Amber and White cider offerings are in terminal decline.

Another growth area has been in low and no alcohol cider (ABV up to 1.2%), which is now worth £13.1 million with sales up by +25.8% and volume up by +27%.

“More brands are launching products into this sector, and retailers are giving it more space in store, which in turn has helped to drive penetration,” adds Langley. “However, we should remember that low-alcohol is still a relatively small part of the cider market overall.”

FRUITY OPPORTUNITY

As Westons continues its assault on the fruit cider market with a new look for Stowford Press and a new four-pack Rhubarb addition to its Rosie’s Pig line-up, this year’s report also reveals how the fruit category continues to attract new shoppers.

“Apple is still dominant, accounting for more than half of all cider sales and up +2.5% by value year-on-year,” explains Langley. “But fruit has had another fantastic year with sales up by +11.7% in value to help it secure £1 of every £3 spent in the off-trade. Even more impressively, fruit cider is now bought by more households than apple cider and is clearly attracting a new generation of shoppers who are also keen to buy fruit ciders in cans, with this format accounting for more than half of all fruit cider sales.

“In last year’s report we predicted that fruit cider would account for half of all ciders sold by 2023. But we estimate that this is now likely to happen a year earlier than our original prediction, by 2022.”

“By contrast, sales of pear cider continue to fall, so retailers stocking this should really question whether it deserves to take up shelf space when the growth is clearly elsewhere in the category.”

CHANGING FACE OF OFF-TRADE CIDER DRINKERS

Unveiling new consumer research into today’s cider drinkers[2], Westons’ latest report reveals that there are now four main types of cider drinkers that off-trade retailers should be aware of to make the right stocking decisions:

  1. Fruit Cider Fanatics – this group accounts for one in four (24%) cider drinkers and tends to be made up of young women aged 18-34. They are more likely to opt for very sweet ciders, with fruit ciders their overwhelming preference. Typical perfect serves – Stowford Press Mixed Berries, Rosie’s Pig fruit ciders.
  2. Craft Repertoire Drinkers – three out of 10 (29%) cider drinkers fall into this category. Typically males aged 35-54, this group has a slight ABC1 skew, will drink cider in and out of home, prefer more traditional cider variants. This group favours apple cider over fruit cider, while no and low alcohol ciders are also of interest as they are often consciously trying to cut down their overall alcohol intake. Typical perfect serves – Henry Westons Vintage, Henry Westons Aged Finish and Stowford Press Low Alcohol.
  3. Cider Enthusiasts – Making up one in six cider drinkers (13%), cider enthusiasts are typically aged 18-34 with a slight skew towards females. They will try all ciders, but taste and flavour are their biggest motivations. Typical perfect serves – Stowford Press, Stowford Press Mixed Berries, Rosie’s Pig apple and fruit ciders.
  4. Traditional At Home Cider Drinkers – Typically aged 55+ with a skew towards C2DE social grades, for this group cider is part of the traditional at home drinkers’ repertoire and they prefer glass bottles over cans. Apple cider is usually the preferred choice, but they will also drink fruit ciders. Typical perfect serves – Henry Westons Vintage, Henry Westons Aged, Stowford Press, Stowford Press Mixed Berries. 

CHALLENGING THE SEASONALITY TAG

Although cider is often seen as a very seasonal drink, the reality is that it is a consistent seller in the off-trade throughout the year, remaining a key part of customers’ repertoires from Easter right through to Christmas.

“Cider is in demand year-round, and with all indications showing that cider will continue to grow in popularity, retailers should be ready to cater for that demand throughout the year,” explains Langley.

“Having said that, and in common with many other drinks categories, there are periods when there is a natural surge in demand – for example during the summer months, when the weather is hot, during big sporting occasions and in the run-up to Christmas.

“Illustrating this point perfectly, the biggest off-trade cider occasions during 2018 included the England football team’s group stage matches during last year’s World Cup, a hot sunny week in April and the week before Christmas.

“As a result, retailers should make sure they are aware of key occasions when demand for cider is likely to be at its highest, for example during this summer’s Cricket World Cup, which takes place in England and Wales from the end of May until mid-July.”

SUSTAINABILITY & PACKAGING

Sustainability and packaging remains a hot topic throughout retail – and the cider category is no exception.

This year’s report reveals that four out of 10 (40%) off-trade shoppers feel it is extremely or very important that they buy local or British, whilst cans – viewed as a lightweight and recyclable option by many shoppers – continue to become a popular packaging format for many.

“Cans now make up more than half (53%) of cider value sales and this format is still in double digit growth (+11.5%),” explains Langley. “Glass has a 32% share and is relatively static, but the biggest loser is plastic bottles, sales of which have tumbled by -7.9% and now account for just 13% of sales.”

BRIGHT FUTURE

“Our report once again shows that there is an extremely bright future for cider in the UK off trade and that it will have a key role to play in helping the channel to drive sales during 2019.

“Each year, we are building up an increasingly complex and fascinating picture of the modern cider category, which has again shown itself to be dynamic and in high demand among an increasingly diverse audience.”

The full report – including impartial stocking advice for retailers of all shapes and sizes across the on trade – can be downloaded at https://www.westons-cider.co.uk/download-cider-report/

[1] All figures IRI unless otherwise stated

[2] Cambridge Market Research Q4 2018