It’s no exaggeration to say that cider is booming in the UK. The category is worth £1.19 billion in the off-trade and up by +5.3% in the last year, with 529 million litres of cider and perry now purchased every year by almost half of UK households.
But as well as being large, the cider category is also diverse and evolving quickly, offering a vast amount of choice for wholesalers.
Read on to learn more about the category’s hotspots – and how to make the most of shoppers’ growing thirst for cider…
Sales of fruit ciders are flourishing, driven by the vast number of shoppers seeking out sweeter, refreshing flavours. In a short space of time, fruit ciders have become so successful in attracting new drinkers into the cider category that they now represent 36% of total value sales in the off-trade – and are up by +11.7% year-on-year.
“Up and down the country the thirst for fruit cider is growing,” explains Darryl Hinksman, Head of Business Development at Westons Cider, “and fruit ciders are bringing new consumers into the cider market by broadening the category’s appeal, particularly among non-traditional cider drinkers such as women and younger adults.
“We’re also seeing fruit ciders have a real impact in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Scotland and the north-east – areas where, traditionally, apple ciders haven’t gained much traction. As a result, fruit cider is driving incremental sales for the category and wholesalers in these areas need to make the most of the opportunity that this represents.” Within the 2019 Cider Report, Westons Cider predicted that, based on current trends, fruit cider will account for half of all cider sold in the UK by 2022.
Apple is Essential
“While fruit ciders are becoming increasingly popular, apple cider continues to have a big role to play in the category,” continues Hinksman, “and this is especially true for premium and traditional ciders.”
Apple ciders make up 57% of cider value sales – up by +2.5% year-on-year in value – with traditional favourites like Henry Westons Vintage and premium ciders like Stowford Press fuelling the growth at the expense of value propositions such as value amber and value white ciders, which are both in steep decline.
As the UK’s favourite glass bottle apple cider, Henry Westons Vintage is now worth over £40 million, up by +10% versus the same time last year1.
“It’s important that wholesalers don’t forget about apple ciders as these drinks still account for more than half of sales, are at the core of the category, and continue to grow in popularity. In September, Westons Cider added to its successful Henry Westons brand with the launch of Henry Westons Aged Finish. Released to broaden appeal for its category-leading brand, the new offering is a bright and sparkling medium dry cider aged for up to 180 days.
“Henry Westons Aged Finish is an accessible cider that which will help to continue driving the interest in traditional crafted liquids, thanks to a great depth of flavour and a lower ABV,” continues Hinksman.
It’s long been assumed that cider is inherently seasonal, with a boom in sales during the summer months.
While a sales uplift is certainly noticeable in the off-trade, the skew towards the summer months is more evident amongst fruit ciders than apple ciders. There’s also a clearer sales uplift for premium ciders compared with crafted and mainstream drinks.
“Like many drinks categories, the cider market has its key peaks during the summer months, but it’s also important to remember that some parts of the category remain popular all-year around, particularly at the premium and crafted end,” continues Hinksman. “This means it’s all about making the right products available in wholesale to capitalise on consumer uplift during the summer months and beyond.”