Demand for cider continues to grow and is a crucial category on the bar, as 75% of consumers say that the cider range is most important when choosing where to visit.  This year’s Cider Report – The Changing Demands of New Generation Cider Drinkers from HEINEKEN UK – available to download here – sets out to identify the key trends impacting the cider category, whilst also exploring opportunities for operators to drive footfall and revenue growth.

Cider has shown its resilience over the past 12 months, securing its place as the fastest growing drinks segment within the on-trade, delivering +8.6% value sales growth. This amounts to a staggering £1.9bn in value sales and 2.5 hectolitres within the channel each year.

“Our latest Cider Report demonstrates that there’s so much more for operators to go after within the cider category,”explains Jack Wignall, Category Development Manager – Cider, HEINEKEN UK. “As we enter the darker winter months, there’s real opportunity to get creative and have fun with new cider serves and marketing to boost appeal and trial. Our latest Cider Report reveals 83% of cider drinkers would be open to the idea of drinking cider throughout the winter. It’s therefore worth considering rotating in some ‘wintery’ flavours, darker berry-infused variants and mulled cider options this festive season, to grab the attention of cider enthusiasts who are renowned for their category loyalty.   

“And let’s not forget the phenomenal year of sport ahead. Operators have a great opportunity to further boost sales in 2024, with cider continuing to cater for a wide variety of occasions, holding onto its reputation as an easy-going, sociable option. It’s perfect for the all-year round sporting calendar, as much as it is for those casual after-work drinks. We hope this year’s report proves helpful and inspirational for operators looking to up their cider game over the coming months.” 

With fewer taps on the bar, cider hasn’t premiumised at the same rate as other drinks categories such as beer or spirits. But more recent innovation in cider has created greater choice and trade-up options on draught and in the fridge. Premium cider is growing quickly and is now worth 42% of all cider sales, helping reinvigorate drinker excitement and allowing operators to maximise cider revenue.

Choice is particularly important for millennial and Gen Z consumers, with cider becoming increasingly relevant to a younger wave of drinkers who are more regularly visiting the on-trade. Premium and exotic flavours are driving interest and growth among 18–34-year-old drinkers, with almost half (48%) saying they would purchase flavoured cider rather than apple because they like being able to switch between flavours. As we move into the new year, staying tuned into the latest innovation will be key to cater for these drinkers, who are vital to the long-term growth of the cider category. Increasing visibility of the options available and introducing new flavour choices or brands to the fridge are two key considerations outlined in this year’s Cider Report from HEINEKEN UK to help drive sales amongst this demographic.

Brands remain important to cider drinkers, with a third (32%) stating that they look for cider brands they recognise at the bar, whilst 74% specifically call out a brand when ordering. When it comes to innovation, nearly half (47%) say that a well-established brand is what they look for when trying a new cider, increasing even further to 58% for female drinkers.

The HEINEKEN UK Cider Report also looks at the nation’s preferences both between and within apple and flavoured cider categories. Apple continues to hold the top spot as the preferred cider choice, with 58.4% value sales, and remains the firm favourite for more mature cider drinkers who typically revert to classic or mainstream apple options. Classic apple ciders, such as Strongbow Original, make up 31% of draught cider value whilst mainstream ciders, such as Inch’s Cider, have seen growth at +43.8% value sales in the last year and now makes up 25% of the draught cider market. With limited cider taps on the bar, the first cider tap should go to apple. Classic and mainstream draught apple brands are suited to the majority of outlet types, whereas more premium brands on draught are better for upmarket outlets where customers expect to pay more. Second or even third taps on the bar should be left for either a mainstream or premium flavoured cider to suit the venue.

The report also reveals that No & Low Alcohol remains the fastest-growing cider segment for the second year in a row, primarily driven by preferences of younger consumers. Importantly, the availability of an alcohol-free cider option would encourage purchase for over a fifth of 18–34-year-olds across both apple and flavoured.

“In summary, cider is continuing to see remarkable evolution and is maintaining a widespread appeal across a diverse range of drinking occasions,” Wignall concludes. “Whilst cider traditionally invokes images of hot summer days, it absolutely continues to play an important role during the colder months.”

Download your free HEINEKEN UK Cider Report for more exclusive insights to boost your cider sales.

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