Fruit cider sales soar but apple tipped to dominate

Fruit cider will never overtake apple as the most popular cider among UK drinkers, according to a leading supplier.

In the off-trade apple cider is down 5.2%, pear is down 17.9%, but fruit is up 11.9% (IRI, year to February 2016).

Fruit has now cornered a 29% share of the market, cutting pear’s share to 10% and apple’s to 61%.

But Matthew Langley, category development manager at Westons, said: “Fruit cider shoppers buy far less frequently than apple drinkers. It’s going to be near impossible for fruit cider to catch up with apple’s share.”

Westons is the seventh-biggest cider supplier to the off-trade and has grown sales by 7.1% to £41 million in the past year (IRI) by focusing on premium apple cider with provenance and high juice content.

Thatchers, which is at number nine, has enjoyed similar success on a similar strategy, with sales up 22.2% to £31 million.

However, the only two other top 10 suppliers in growth are fruit cider-focused. Kopparberg is now the second-biggest supplier, with sales up 17.4% to £125 million.

Rekorderlig has recently transferred to Molson Coors but, for the purposes of analysing the past year, IRI’s chart still lists it as Chilli Marketing and shows the brand growing at 4.5% to £32 million.

Market leader Heineken
is down 3.1% to £395 million. However, while its main Strongbow apple cider is down 6.8% to £205 million, Strongbow Dark Fruit – the current runaway success of the drinks market – is up 30.1% to £67 million.

The other leading cider suppliers have all declined in the past year.

Magners supplier C&C is down 11.4% to £86 million, although in the past 12 weeks
it has grown sales by cutting its price; Aston Manor is down 1%
to £86 million; Stella Artois Cidre supplier AB-Inbev is down 28.5% to £46 million; Lambrini supplier Halewood is down 5.5% to £45 million; and Molson Coors is down 10.5% to £14 million.

But when you add Rekorderlig to Molson Coors’ business the future looks much rosier for the supplier.

Overall the off-trade cider category is down 2.8% in volume and 2.3% in value. But Langley said: “The headline figure is decline of 2.8% but I am not that worried about it because the decline masks a stable picture month on month since August 2015.

“The market dynamics are showing a premiumisation trend and there is huge room for cider to grow with the right proposition for consumers.”

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