The Herefordshire-based independent cider maker identified significant opportunities within the draught fruit-cider category yesterday (22 March) at the pre-launch of its Cider Report in London.
Mixed Berries is positioned as a premium competitor to the likes of Heineken’s Strongbow Dark Fruits draught cider, following significant growth in the segment.
On-trade draught fruit-cider sales have rocketed by 41.4% in the past 12 months, CGA data showed.
In The Morning Advertiser’s Drinks List: Top Brands To Stock for 2018 report, Strongbow Dark Fruits had reached volume sales of 385,072 hectolitres and was worth £220m.
The product was the second biggest-selling cider in the on-trade, behind standard Strongbow, according to the data provided by CGA.
‘Sales of fruit cider flourishing’
Stowford Press brand manager Holly Chadwick said: “Sales of fruit cider are flourishing, driven by the vast number of consumers seeking sweeter, refreshing flavours.
“Some 25.7m fruit pints are now drunk in the on-trade, and it’s clear to see they are broadening consumer interest in the wider category.
“By appealing to younger, female consumers who are often new to the category, fruit ciders are also driving incremental sales.”
The launch of Stowford Press Mixed Berries forms part of Westons’ five-year plan to take the business into the future, which includes increasing new product development (NPD) to a quarter of its business.
In the past year, the business had grown sales by 8%, with on-trade sales increasing nine times faster than the cider market, said commercial director Geoff Bradman.
Westons recently reached the end of a £15m four-year investment programme that saw cash pumped into all parts of its cider production process.
A further £5m
A further £5m is to be spent on the producer’s water treatment facilities to ensure it meets environmental standards in the future.
Three areas – building the business; funding the future; and creating the culture – would be the focus for Westons over the next five years, Bradman added.
“NPD is currently at 12% of our portfolio and we want to boost that to 25%, so that gives you a clue to the strategy for our brand going forward,” said Bradman.
Finding the future would see the company explore new opportunities to invest in, whether NPD or other areas, he added.
Stowford Press Mixed Berries, a 4% ABV draught cider, is the first foray for the brand into the segment and will be launched into the on-trade only, next month, followed by a media campaign in May.
It is predicted the fruit cider category, which is not a fad, will account for half of all cider sales within five years, according to Chadwick.