Avoiding the RTD pitfalls

Key cider buyers

give their views on the state

of the sector. Nicola Collenette reports

Would you agree that cider is one of the most innovative categories at the moment?

Dave Smith, Booth s cider buyer: "It was but it's now showing a small decline."

Nic Storey, Sainsbury's cider buyer: "Versus the rest of the lager, ale and stout categories, cider is continuing to show comparatively high levels of innovation. Admittedly, much of this is coming through in the form of flavour variants and foreign propositions as opposed to packaging or formats. If comparing to the rest of grocery, then there are still higher levels of innovation across the supermarket."

Ian Targett, Tesco

cider buyer: "Over the last few years we have seen significant innovations in the cider category. Initially it was about the way cider was drunk. We then saw a period of brands

jumping on the bandwagon . The styles were then refreshed - cloudy, still, varietals etc.

Innovation has definitely come easier to cider than other sectors recently."

What do you think will happen to the cider category in the next six months?

DS: "It really depends on the

summer. Sales should increase if we get a good one otherwise I think it will level off."

NS: "With regards to the cider market over the next six months, it will be interesting to see how Magners operates with

its new management team.

"After the success of Kopparberg in

particular, I expect to continue to see more ciders from the continent and further afield.

The weather this summer will be a strong factor in the performance

of cider, particularly the 'over-ice' category, which I expect to see continued

strong sales from rather than any fad-like decline."

IT: "Cider has become more mainstream - and is catching up to lager rapidly as regards pack formats, and presence of cider in stores is growing.

What do you think of the newer fruit varieties and

is there a danger that the category might go the way of RTDs?

DS: "There is a big danger of that. We are going away from the premium side back into, in some cases, alcopops."

NS: "The newer, fruitier varieties are being presented

thick and fast, as


try to emulate the success of Kopparberg, St Helier and spin-offs from Bulmers and

the like. Whil e the more confected flavour variants offer more obvious comparisons to the RTD sector, there are also some great drier flavoured ciders coming in at the more premium level of the category. There is certainly the danger of some of these brands going the same way as RTDs, but the better quality variants offer more credibility and need to be looked at differently as they have different customers."

IT: "Some of the new flavours are interesting

and there will always be an element of differentiation in the category, which I welcome. If our customer tells us they want the newer, more challenging flavours

- then that's what we'll give them. However, I think that customers have accepted mainstream cider back into their normal drinking repertoire, and more of them are switching regularly between cider and lager."

What's your top-selling cider? 

DS: "Booths Anniversary cider, after that Magners."

NS: "The top two -selling ciders at Sainsbury's by volume are our Basics Cider (2 litres) and Strong Dry Cider (3 litres) - both are Sainsbury's own -label and offer incredibly good value for good liquids."