APPLE CIDER TO DOMINATE AS IT CONTINUES TO CATCH PUBGOERS’ EYES


  • Ninth edition of the Westons Cider Report reveals how premium and crafted apple cider continues to grow market share…
  • As overall on trade sales of cider finally stabilise post-Covid.
  • Despite further outlet consolidation, value sales of cider have risen +4.7% to reach within touching distance of £2 billion…
  • On volumes up +0.5% as the average price of a pint continues to grow well beyond £4.

The success of premium and crafted apple ciders will continue to set the pace of growth in the UK’s £1.93 billion on trade cider market this year, as flavoured cider continues to fall out of favour following its meteoric rise.

That’s just one of the verdicts from Westons Cider’s ninth annual Cider Report as it once again reveals what will be hot – and what will not – in the world of cider over the coming year.

The cider maker’s comprehensive annual review – based on a deep dive into the latest industry data and trends – comes as the on trade continues to recover from the latest round of consolidation, with pub numbers dipping below 100,000 and on trade distribution points for cider falling by -3.5% to 92,095.

Yet it’s far from doom and gloom for Britain’s cider makers and sellers, reveals Westons, with plenty of room for optimism in the year ahead.

APPLE UP, FLAVOURED DOWN

On trade cider sales are still on the rise post-Covid – with value sales up +4.7% on volumes up +0.5%. But compared with the double digit rises outlined in last year’s Report, this would seem to confirm that on trade cider sales are beginning to rediscover their natural ground, accounting for 62% of total cider sales by value and 37% of volumes, as the off trade also returns to more normal levels on both counts (28% of value share and 63% of volume).

“The real interest in the on trade now is where the next phase of cider growth is going to come from,” explains Tim Williams, Insight and Innovation Manager for Westons Cider. “And whilst we’ve quite rightly been talking up the important role that premium and craft cider would play in driving growth for on trade retailers during the course of our previous reports, this is likely to resonate even more strongly over the coming months, as key occasions and anticipated trends all point towards a significant on trade cider opportunity in 2024.

“With apple cider now accounting for nearly two-thirds of all on trade cider sales by volume, and three-quarters of draught sales, the direction of travel is clear, with the average rate of sale per draught apple tap now around double that of flavoured cider.

“As a result, our recommendation to retailers is to look at the insights and try to get the balance right for your outlet. Don’t turn your back on flavoured cider totally – after all, it still accounts for more than £200 million of on trade sales – but make sure you’re serving it in the formats that are right for your own particular set of customers. And make sure you look at the regional variations that we map out in our report.

“For example, if you’re operating in the North East or Wales, then sales of draught apple are currently growing by +6.4% and +9.3% respectively, whereas the corresponding volumes for draught flavoured in those regions are either down or flat (-4.8% and +0.7%). Combined with your own venue data, it becomes relatively simple to map out where your priorities should lie.”

KEY GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES FOR 2024:

  • Premium ciders will continue to win and are likely to extend their presence in the year ahead for those retailers looking to improve margins and make the most of the cider opportunity. Apple is a signpost of quality and it’s not just inflationary pressure that has seen the average price of a pint of cider now rise to £4.31, up by 17p versus a year ago. Consumers are seeking out the brands that echo this quality, and it’s the apple brands that are delivering on this through heritage, provenance and the authentic nature of crafted and cared for apple cider.
  • It’s therefore important that ranges adapt to where the growth is coming from and

match this. Getting the range right and ensuring the best-selling brands are in front of the consumer is key. The best-selling brands need to be given the most prominent tap positions.

ON-TRADE CATEGORY SPOTLIGHTS:

  • Don’t forget the pulling power that cider has in helping to attract new drinkers. CGA figures show that cider over-indexes versus other drinks for younger adults and, despite perceptions to the contrary, three in 10 (30%) of those aged 25-34 now drink on premise – more than any other age group.
  • Meanwhile, a third of cider consumers drink out at least weekly, and spend £5 more than the average of £101 a month – so cider is recruiting and delivering new younger and affluent drinkers.
  • Cider and sport are another match made in heaven, with many of the year’s biggest cider selling days linked to sport. And the great news is that this year – as well as the stalwart calendar events such as the FA Cup Final and Grand National, which regularly show up in the top 10 cider occasions – we also have the Euros to look forward to, with England and Scotland already qualified, and Wales still in the mix. Coupled with summer, the tournament runs from mid-June to mid-July and promises to be a real boon for cider sales. Don’t forget the Olympics, either!
  • Talking of summer…  seasonality and temperature always come into play, so make sure you’re stocked up for the moment the temperature gauge rises, for there’s no greater correlation between cider and sales than a hot spell or sunny Bank Holiday.
  • Last, but not least, don’t forget Christmas and new year are also key occasions for selling cider, especially the good stuff as drinkers look to treat themselves

Sally McKinnon, Head of Marketing at Westons Cider, concludes: “As one of the major players within the £3 billion on and off trade cider category, and with leading brands including Stowford Press and Henry Westons, the Ninth Edition of our annual Cider Report once again shows the constantly evolving nature of the cider category.

“Rewind to 2018 and we were accurately predicting how the meteoric rise of flavoured cider would continue, and indeed it did. But we have also seen, not just through the course of our last nine reports, but during the course of 144 years in business, the ever-changing nature of the cider category.

“Right now, all indicators point to the fact that it’s the turn of premium and crafted cider to have its place in the sun, and it’s the pubs and bars that ride this trend that will be the biggest on trade winners in 2024.”

The full report – including impartial stocking advice – is also available for digital download here.

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