Craft trends and blurred lines in the on-/off-trade opening doors for premium cider

Jo Gilbert

Premiumisation is at work in the cider industry.

The second annual market report from producer Westons suggests that the drinking less but better trend has infiltrated the cider market in several ways.

According to the report, value outpaced volume in 2016, with an uplift of 2.1% for value sales across off- and on-trade channels compared to +0.3% for volume.

The findings could spell good news for the cider market.

With premiumiusation at work, cider has the potential to encroach on some of the craft beer segment, which is increasingly sitting alongside – and replacing - wine on pairing menus.

Helen Thomas, MD of Westons Cider, said the cider market continued to be “challenging” but “positive” in 2016, with the effect of premiumisation as well as movements in the on-trade providing the most opportunities for growth.

“Overall cider volumes show a marginal recovery on the year, mainly driven by the on-trade,” Thomas added.

“The off trade showed slight volume declines, but value increased as the cider market premiumised and continued its gradual move away from value cider products – this is great news of course for the category.”


Focus on value

The report also outlined the “blurring of lines” between on-trade and the off-trade channels and increased opportunities for premium eating/drinking out experiences, as areas opening up more room for cider to flex its premium muscles.

In the on-trade, the rise of trends such as street food, mainstream casual dining, premium fast food, as well as “food to go” from traditionally off-trade outlets are all forming part of this picture.

In terms of off-trade sales, premiumisation is once again driving the fastest growth, evident in the rise of the traditional/craft ciders in the 12 months to December 31.

The craft segment, which largely consists of single glass bottle brands from independent producers, saw an increase of 10.8% on 2015, and now accounts for 8% of all off-trade cider sales.

Sales of ciders classed as “premium” - mostly glass bottle-led brands such as Kopparberg and Magners - rose 0.8% to nab a 34% share of the market.

Value (18%) and mainstream (40%) made up the rest of the pie.


Export opportunities 

As well as having the world’s highest per capita consumption of cider, the UK also has the largest cider-producing companies.

Gabe Cook, communications officer with The National Association of Cider Makers (NACM,) singled out the export market as a key area for future growth and also for putting Britain on the map post-Brexit.

“Inevitably, changes in the political landscape and Brexit will have a bearing on UK cider, and while there may be some uncertainty, what we do know is that the already booming export trade, worth over £100m a year, is in prime position to continue to grow. This will enable us to fly the flag for British products and to be recognised as the best of great British drinks,” he said.


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