ON-TRADE CIDER STORMS BACK TO SUCCESS AND CRAFTED HOLDS THE KEY TO FURTHER GROWTH


All data Westons Cider Report 2023 (IRI 52 w/e 31.12.22, Kantar P13 52 w/e 25.12.22, CGA Trading Index. Quarter data to Feb 2022, CGA BrandTrack 2022, CGA OPM Data to P13 2022 (21.12.22), Cask Marque 2022, CGA Strategy On Premise Measurement Service P13) unless otherwise stated.

  • Eighth edition of the Westons Cider Report shows continuation of on-trade recovery and long-lasting shifts in consumer behaviour 
  • Rebalancing of the category continued throughout 2022, following lifting of final pandemic-related restrictions, with 254M litres of cider sold, up 56.2% on 2021
  • On-trade value share accelerated, hitting 63% of the category, surpassing the off-trade for the first time since 2019, totalling £1.86bn 
  • Herefordshire cider maker predicts premium, crafted ciders will continue to propel growth in the category, as consumers seek value and quality in 2023

Premium and crafted ciders will lead the charge on growth of the on-trade cider market throughout 2023, following a strong 12 months, where, despite a challenging marketplace, value sales rocketed +61.5%. 

That’s the latest analysis from Westons Cider, as it launches its eighth annual Cider Report, which shows the on-trade has now reclaimed its share of the category across both value and volume sales compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“In the first year with no pandemic-related restrictions, the on-trade smashed all expectations with a roaring return to recovery and more than £700M added to the value of the cider category versus 2022,” says Darryl Hinksman, Head of Business Development at Westons Cider.

“Even during a challenging year, with spiralling costs impacting venues and consumer spending, as well as a backdrop of strikes in the run up to Christmas, our latest report shows punters returned to outlets in their droves and remained keen to support their local. 

“There’s no denying 2023 has started out as another tough year, and uncertainty in the sector is putting serious pressure on venues, particularly independents. 

“Looking ahead, venues will need to think carefully about the evolution of drinking occasions to maximise opportunity for their outlets. This might mean considering catering to the lower tempo, more casual and food-led occasions, such as relaxed drinks and casual meals, which are proving most popular. Currently, these two occasions make up almost half (43%) of total drinks spend. 

“Of course, the on-trade is no stranger to a challenge, showcasing resilience time and again in recent years. What’s more, in cider, the on-trade/off-trade category split has now rebalanced, with total value of the on-trade now making up 63% of the category, while volume is at 36%, taking us back to the balance we saw in 2019. 

“Cider will continue to be incredibly important in the coming year as an option primed to help outlets capitalise on the greater popularity of these more casual drinks occasions.”

CHANGE IN CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR: IS THURSDAY THE NEW FRIDAY?

The Westons Cider Report also reveals changes to consumer behaviour which have impacted sales across the on-trade. 

“It’s become evident over the year last year that there are some permanent shifts in consumer behaviour,” explains Tim Williams, Insights & Innovation Manager at Westons Cider. “As working patterns settle and many employers embrace flexible working, we’re seeing a change in when people are visiting their favourite venues. 

“Unsurprisingly, Saturday continues to be the most popular trading day and over the last year, we’ve seen Fridays and Mondays grow in popularity. However, the biggest change over the longer term affects Thursday and Sunday, which are becoming more important, increasing their share in drinks sales value over the last three years, while Friday has shrunk versus three years ago in 2019. 

“As people continue to work from home, and consumers have extra personal time freed up, we’re almost seeing an extension to the weekend, with more people enjoying time in the pub or at restaurants any time between Thursday and Monday.

“This also ties into the rise of casual celebrations in 2022. While the early ‘freedom days’ post-pandemic saw people keen for a party and late night venues sustaining a real boom, things are shifting, with consumers opting for more relaxed experiences – after work drinks, casual meals, a quiet night out. Over the course of 2022, this led to spirits sales falling, while cider experienced the fastest growth across the entire drinks category.”

CRAFTED AND PREMIUM CIDERS CONTINUE TO SHINE

The Westons Cider Report also showcases the accelerated growth of both crafted and premium ciders. In the on-trade, premium brands now account for more than half of all sales by volume with both premium mainstream apple – such as Stowford Press – and crafted apple ciders – such as Henry Westons Vintage – up over 4% (+4.6% and +4.2%, respectively), while mainstream apple ciders decline.

“Consumers are responding strongly to authentic brands with a sense of provenance – as well as a delicious taste. This offers a great opportunity for venues, as premium and crafted ciders command between 45p and £1.11 more than their mainstream counterparts,” continues Williams.

“Outlets should also be aware that 56.8% of draught cider sales are through more premium brands and these can help draw consumers into the category. This means it’s these ‘better and best’ brands which should be made available, even if operators have just two cider taps on hand.”

“This year will continue to be challenging for consumers and venues alike, as pockets are squeezed. We know that consumers are looking for value for money, but also quality products. Consumers may be drinking less frequently, but choosing better products when they do so. 

“This trend towards premiumisation, which has been on the rise for more than five years now, is often more apparent during tough economic times, as consumers carefully consider every penny they spend. Enjoyable and affordable pleasures become important, which sets items like crafted ciders up for success.”

CATEGORY HOTSPOTS

Westons’ eighth annual Cider Report also shows:

  • On-trade cider sales were worth £1,863.4M (+61.5%) in 2022, as the premium and crafted sub-categories continue to outpace mainstream ciders.
  • Draught cider sales hold steady, at 76.2% of the market. Apple continues to make up the majority of the draught category (75.4%) and anecdotally it is recognised that draught ciders are seen to offer better value for money during times of austerity, so we can expect this performance to be maintained, if not exceeded, in 2023. 
  • Bag in Box continues to reinvigorate draught ranges, as the cask ale category remains in decline and allows outlets to showcase an interesting and fully stocked bar.

TRENDS SET TO SHAPE CIDER DRINKING IN 2023

The trends that will continue growth throughout this year and beyond include:

  • Premiumisation picks up pace – this long term-trend is continuing and accelerating, as consumers are increasingly interested in the authenticity, craft and connoisseurship of cider. This sub-category is showing the most growth and value potential, growing from 12% of the category in the on-trade in 2021, to 14.4% of total volume sales at the end of 2022.
  • Quality cues – During periods of economic uncertainty, consumers in the on-trade will be looking for a quality drink that matches the occasion and so cider ranges must deliver this message – especially when compared with other categories.
  • Lead with apple – Apple cider remains the most popular cider type, driving the category in value and volume. Flavoured ciders have stabilised at around a third of the category, with dark berry taking a significant share of this.
  • Low & No – this sub-category is steadily growing and, in the on-trade, is worth £26.9M, having doubled over the past three years. While no and low alcohol cider is behind the total overall category, more consumers are becoming interested in alternative offerings.

LOOKING AHEAD

“This year’s cider report shows the boundless opportunity the cider category offers the on-trade,” continues Hinksman

“While it may seem like the start of another difficult 12 months for the trade, data from the first quarter shows positive sales, with cider up year on year. The recent budget also confirmed that there will be reduced excise rates for draught and flavoured ciders, which will help to support the hospitality sector.

“This year, we have another bumper crop of bank holidays, starting with Easter in April before a trio of long weekends throughout May, which we expect to be a fruitful opportunity for cider sales.

“Plus, we have the Rugby World Cup in September, which will round off the summer season seamlessly over an extensive eight-week period.

“With this, plus a thirst for crafted cider from consumers, we’re confident 2023 will be another positive year for the on trade.”

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

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