Cider was one of the big winners in 2013, outperforming the total beer, wine and spirits market in both volume and value sales. According to CGA data, on-trade cider volumes increased 3.9 per cent in the 12 months to 25 January 2014, with volumes down 1.1 per cent.
As with other BWS categories, cider has benefitted from the move towards premiumisation, with consumers increasingly looking for something a little bit special on their night out. According to CGA data, 33 per cent of cider volumes served last year were premium products, compared to 20 per cent in 2012.
Phil Tate, chief operating officer at CGA strategy, says that premium cider is benefitting from the closure of traditional wet-let pubs and the opening of new, food-led outlets that are much more customer-centric.
“We have got this unprecedented influx of higher quality coming into the marketplace with better operators with better concepts who are really starting to stop and take stock of what they need to be doing for their consumers,” he says.
“They are becoming much more female focused, 40-50s, family oriented as well. What comes from that is a more diverse range, with more premium ciders.”
Fruit ciders have also seen massive growth, with both mainstream and premium markets gaining traction. According to CGA, fruit flavoured cider now commands a 47 per cent share of packaged cider volumes, although apple remains dominant in draught with a 97 per cent volume share.
Tate says that fruit cider is particularly popular amongs female drinkers, and sells better during the day than it does in the evenings.
“Fruit cider has double the rate of sale at lunchtime as it does post 9 o’clock at a venue,” he says. “As more retailers are getting used to all day trading and trying to drive sales at lunch, this is complimenting the cider category.”
Fruit ciders also benefit from the hot weather, offering a refreshing alternative to beer when the sun comes out. According to CGA data, fruit cider market share rose to 25 per cent on the back of good weather in the four weeks to July 20 2013.
“You can guarantee that when the sun is out the fruit-based ciders come at double the rate of sale that they get in a traditional session,” says Tate.
The emergence of specialist craft ciders has been much slower than that of craft beer, but last year specialist cider volumes increased 18.1 per cent, while value soared 28 per cent.
According to a report from Rabobank, super-premium cider companies face more cost disadvantages than microbreweries when compared to their mainstream rivals due to “limited scalability, lack of tax breaks and low availability of fruit all result in higher costs, which are hard to pass on to consumers in markets where cider is only just emerging”.
However, super-premium cider is expected to outgrow mainstream products in the long-run, with the so-called female millennial tending to eschew mid-market options in favour of brands at the extreme end of the product spectrum.
There has also been some innovation around spirit-based ciders, or ‘spiders’, which are still in their infancy but growing in popularity amongst young consumers.
“Spirit-based ciders are a new innovation and consumers at the moment are keen on innovation,” says Tate. “If you look at the typical consumer they have 6 categories in their repertoire but for 18-24 year olds that goes up to 10 categories. They are really demanding innovation and something different in the on-trade.”