CGA client director Paul Bolton

How has the cider category performed in 2019? CGA’s Paul Bolton shared a host of insights at the recent Drink Tank conference. Here are five of his messages about the £2bn-a-year market.

1 People are drinking less but paying more

Cider volumes in the on-trade have slipped by 1.5% in the last year, CGA’s On Premise Measurement service shows—partly because of the tough comparatives of summer 2018—but the value of those sales has increased by 0.7%. As well as the effect of inflation, this reflects the premiumisation trend, with people drinking a little less out-of-home, but drinking better.

2 Draught sales up, packaged down

This drop in volumes has been caused by a 6.6% fall in packaged cider sales. By contrast draught—which accounts for around three-quarters of all cider sales—saw volumes increase, albeit fractionally.

3 Fruit ciders shoring up growth

There has been a sharp difference in the fortunes of apple and fruit cider lately. The value of fruit cider sales has risen 1.2% in the last year, compared to a 2.8% fall for apple brands. Fruit varieties held a 25% share of the cider market four years ago, but its stake has soared to nearly 40% now. In many regions of northern England, fruit now outstrips apple for sales. However, growth has slowed as Draught Fruit Cider becomes the norm.

4 Pink gin and hard seltzers are new threats

Our BrandTrack data shows that wine remains the most popular alternative drink for cider consumers. But gin—especially pink—is emerging as a major new competitor, with their consumers closely aligned in demographic terms. Hard seltzers, sales of which are approaching $1bn a year in the US, could be the next big threat.

5 Craft, no and low categories the ones to watch

One way for cider to fight back against new competitors is to emphasise its craft and heritage credentials, particularly in apple. Another big opportunity could lie in the no and low alcohol segment; sales here are still tiny compared to higher ABV options, but distribution has rocketed 50% in the last year.

For more deep insights into the cider category, contact Paul Bolton.


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