All data to IRI 52w/e 2nd Jan 2021 and Kantar 52w/e 27th Dec 2020 unless otherwise stated

  • Sixth edition of Westons Cider Report details biggest ever value growth in the off-trade cider category
  • Report also reveals significant opportunity to tap into fast-growing crafted cider subcategory and unlock sales with innovation
  • Herefordshire cider maker reveals an optimistic outlook for the year ahead, with changing consumer behaviours here to stay and premiumisation driving value growth 

Westons Cider reveals 2020 was the biggest year on record for the off-trade cider category, with the launch of the sixth edition of its annual Cider Report.

Taking a deep dive into last year’s category data, the Westons Cider Report shows record growth for cider in grocery retail – up 21.2% YOY – taking overall value to £1.3bn.

The latest Westons Cider Report reveals almost half of UK households (47.7%) now buy in to the category, which attracted almost a million more shoppers in 2020. What’s more, shoppers bought cider in greater volumes – averaging an additional 30 litres per household, up 9.4%.

And, while the enforced closure of pubs, bars and restaurants for much of 2020 certainly played a part the category’s off-trade success – as consumers swapped trips to their local for a ‘quiet night in’ and an influx of new shoppers bought in – the report also calls out premiumisation as a catalyst of category growth.

“The past year has been undeniably challenging for retailers and suppliers alike. The initial surge in demand in the off-trade meant that production of priority, bestselling SKUs had to be ramped up significantly. However, the outlook for the cider category is no doubt a positive one, as it has yet again shown itself to be buoyant and in high demand,” says Tim Williams, Insight and Innovation Manager at Westons Cider.

“After a year of almost continuous government restrictions, and the consequent closure of the on-trade, we’ve seen a huge swing towards the off-trade – which now accounts for 63% of cider value and 83% of cider volume (up 28% and 19% respectively).

“Looking at the specifics, the data is particularly positive for crafted cider – which was the fastest-growing segment last year – as consumers turned to more premium, higher-value offerings to mimic the out-of-home drinking experience.

“In fact, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest cider drinking occasion last year was a quiet night in – up from 19% of serves a year ago to 21.6% of serves in 2020 – and, with this came just short of a million new shoppers into the category (+970,180).

“The challenge now is for cider brands to keep engaging with these new consumers to help the off-trade retain some of the share it picked up in 2020, even as pubs, bars and restaurants reopen. And as shopper habits continue to evolve in 2021, we’re confident that the clear appetite for cider demonstrated through last year’s significant off-trade growth spells good news for the category overall.” 

THE KEY TO THE CATEGORY

Westons sixth annual Cider Reports reveals growth of crafted cider continues to significantly outpace the overall category (up 48.7% versus 21.2%).

This can be largely attributed to the role this subcategory plays in driving premiumisation, as the price per litre of crafted cider is significantly higher than the market average (£3.23/L versus £2.31/L). These higher-value, traditional ciders continue to drive trade-up, and have become especially important over the past year as consumers looked to authentic, heritage brands for products they could count on to deliver a high-quality serve at home.“The figures suggest that stocking premium, branded lines with provenance and heritage will unlock a significant sales opportunity for retailers. However, there’s still a huge untapped opportunity to drive premiumisation and value growth across the wider category,” says Sally McKinnon, Head of Marketing at Westons Cider. “Understanding cider drinkers’ motivations and the new opportunities beyond Covid will be integral to this, and innovations within other fast-growing subcategories could help to spread value growth more evenly across the category.”

CATEGORY HOTSPOTS

As well as highlighting distribution and sales gains for crafted cider, cloudy, rosé and no and low alcohol, Westons’ latest report reveals:

  • The average household now buys cider once a month (12.0 times per annum), up +6.2% year-0n-year
  • Average volume per household is 37.1 litres, up +9.4%
  • Apple cider continues to dominate, accounting for 60% of total off-trade sales – with fruit cider accounting for 35% (up 22.3% and 22.9% respectively)
  • Crafted ciders are driving the greatest growth, up 48.7%. Within this, the top ten crafted brands represent 82% of crafted category value[1] – led by Henry Westons, up 77.3% YOY.[2]
  • Canned offerings continue to prove popular among shoppers who enjoy this lightweight and recyclable format, which now accounts for 59% of all sales – up 31.7% from the previous year
  • Glass is following suit, accounting for just under a third of all sales (29%), whilst plastic bottles (10%) continue to decline as a result of consumers moving away from value offerings, alongside price rises following the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing in Scotland

THE TRENDS DRIVING GROWTH

Once again highlighting the trends driving growth, the Westons Cider Report also reveals:

  • Premiumisation continues to be the driving force for growth across the off-trade, with the average price per litre having risen to £2.31. In the convenience channel, this is already averaging £2.40, ahead of the total market. Compared to other categories – such as wine and spirits – cider has also not yet seen the same level of premiumisation, signalling more room for shoppers to trade up
  • Authenticity & Craft remain important factors for cider drinkers. In convenience, the crafted cider subcategory reached triple digit growth, with independents seeing volume growth of 153.4% YOY.
  • Online and convenience cider sales have boomed – +81.4% and +19.0% respectively, well ahead of the 17.9% growth seen in the total grocery market
  • Cloudy and Rosé ciders now present a huge sales opportunity, with respective growth rates of 104.1% and 481.3% – far outpacing the overall category
  • Low & No Alcohol Cider volume has grown by +32.6% in the off-trade, with increased penetration and interest driving this growth. These products attract a more affluent shopper, and 3.2% of cider buyers ONLY purchase no/low alcohol cider – demonstrating the incremental value these products are adding to the overall category
  • Larger pack formats are on the rise – ten pack value increased 40% YOY and packs larger than this saw a 31.6% increase. Despite, this single bottles still make up the majority of cider market value, with a 40% share
  • Quiet Night In, Winding Down and Enjoying with Food are all primary purchasing motivations for cider, signalling clear stocking time cues for retailers, as well as an opportunity to offer cider within cross-category promotions, such as dining in deals 

AN OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK

“As the on-trade readies itself for reopening in April, you might expect grocery cider sales to suffer. However, our research suggests the future is looking bright for the UK off-trade,” says Darryl Hinksman, Head of Business Development at Westons Cider. “A Summer of sport and the possibility of meeting with wider circles of friends and family will undoubtedly drive both out-of-home and in-home drinking occasions.

“Over the past year, UK grocery retail has played a crucial role in maintaining presence and momentum for the cider category. The sheer popularity of crafted ciders, the emergence of diverse offerings within the cloudy and rosé subcategories and the growth of the online and convenience channels have played a key part in this, and we expect these factors to remain important throughout the year ahead.

“Once again, our Cider Report paints a clear picture of the ever-evolving cider category, which continues to show itself to be dynamic and in-demand among an increasingly diverse audience,” concludes Hinksman.

The full report – including impartial stocking advice for retailers of all shapes and sizes across the off-trade – is also available for digital download on the Westons website.

[2] Kantar 52w/e 21st February 2021

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