Cider flourishes while other drinks flounder

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cider market, Alcoholic beverage, Magners

Magners cider adverts
Magners cider adverts
The "Magners halo effect" helped the cider market grow in the past year, in contrast to cask ale, which continued its decline. Figures from market...

The "Magners halo effect" helped the cider market grow in the past year, in contrast to cask ale, which continued its decline.

Figures from market analyst AC Nielsen for the year to March 2006 show overall volumes of draught ale were down 2%, with cask ale falling by around 5%.

Standard lager held up well with volumes slipping just 1%.

The on-trade sales figures showed cider was the only growth product in the long-drinks category, with packaged cider up 10%, draught cider up 1% and perry up 1%.

"Magners has had a spectacular effect on the cider market," ​said analyst Graham Page. "It is a premium-packaged product, which is easy for bars to stock as it is not competing for space on the bar.

"The real test for Magners will come if it decides to go for draught - then it will be competing with the big players such as Strongbow and Blackthorn.

"But others have benefited from the halo effect, especially market leader Strongbow. Mag-ners has reignited the market."

Page said he believed the ale market was continuing to shrink because of social changes in Britain - these would include the decline of manufacturing and the disappearance of traditional pubs from city centres.

Overall wine volumes continue to grow - this year they are up by 4%, largely driven by the increasing amount of food served at pubs.

Spirits had a "torrid" year, with whisky, Cognac and dark rum all falling.

Even cream liqueurs - a market previously in growth - has declined by 1%. "This sector has not been helped by supermarkets selling market leader Baileys for under £10 for a litre bottle," said Page.

Vodka sales remained static while tequila volumes grew by 3%.

In the soft-drinks sector, flavoured carbonates, such as cola and lemonade, were the biggest losers as health concerns grow. Volumes dropped by 4%.

However, fruit juice is in growth (5%) and mineral water also grew by 8%.

Page added: "The on-trade is having a tough time against the off-trade as the price gap grows. But the on-trade is not all about price. What it does mean, though, is pubs have to be very good at what they do to justify the premium price."

Related topics: Beer, Cider