The Cider Report

FEATURE: Facts, stats and advice to push your cider offer

By Gary Lloyd contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cider specialists: The Ciderologist Gabe Cook (above right) has lots of advice as do Thatchers, Kopparberg and Westons, among others
Cider specialists: The Ciderologist Gabe Cook (above right) has lots of advice as do Thatchers, Kopparberg and Westons, among others

Related tags: Cider, Multi-site pub operators, Pubco + head office, Tenanted + leased

The Chinese new year began a couple of months ago, ushering in the Year of the Tiger, but operators of hospitality businesses will be hoping 2022 will be the ‘Year of the Pub’ as sites return to full use across the UK.

Why new flavours in cider can help your business

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By Thatchers – www.thatcherscider.co.uk

This year your customers are looking for exciting new flavours in cider.

Bringing together three new Thatchers infused premium fruit flavours in a world first for cider, this summer it’s all about the Thatchers 3 in 1 Fusion Font, the new way of serving fruit cider. It brings craft and world leading innovation together for a great tasting, premium infused cider, with the heritage and provenance of four generations of Somerset cider making from Thatchers. Saving space in the cellar and at the bar, the choice of three infused premium fruit flavoured ciders comes to the bar in one single font, with one keg and one line, meaning lower maintenance, less space and more choice.

At the point of pour, the Thatchers Fusion Font infuses a micro measure of the selected fruit flavour into a pint of Thatchers premium apple cider, creating one of three freshly mixed ciders.  As the cider is being dispensed through the Fusion Font it delivers a unique sensory experience of flavour and aroma. Your customers get the same expertly crafted apple cider, with a freshly-mixed infusion hitting the glass as one.

  • Thatchers Cloudy Lemon Infused Cider. 4% abv. A burst of zingy lemon for the perfect balance of sweet and sharp notes, characterised by the intense, fragrant aroma of lemon juice.
  • Thatchers Dark Berry Infused Cider. 4% abv. Its rich fruity flavour and fresh berry aroma adds an exciting new twist to a refreshing pint of Thatchers cider.
  • Thatchers Blood Orange Infused Cider. 4% abv. Tapping into one of the biggest flavour trends in food and drink this year, Thatchers Blood Orange, is our brand new citrus infused flavour. 

Family owned Thatchers’ mission is to make great cider sustainably, and our Fusion Font is no exception. With less packaging and just one line to clean, it brings peace of mind that every pint of these three fruit flavoured ciders, served from a reusable keg, offers the perfect solution for dispensing quality cider with the minimum of sustainable impact.

In fact, some cider businesses are so confident that trade will be back with a boom, one has already labelled it ‘Year of the Apple’.

According to the recently released Westons Cider Report 2022​, which has been compiled largely in conjunction with data experts CGA, Kantar Worldpanel and IRi, apple variants are leading the way for on-trade cider sales as they regain ground lost throughout the pandemic and move towards pre-pandemic levels.

Westons said: “The year of the apple is upon us and it is premium and crafted apple ciders that will be the driving forces for growth in 2022, as on-trade outlets ready themselves for a continued rebalancing of value and volume sales, which will swing further in their favour over the next 12 months.”

Its research shows the on-trade has made huge leaps to now be on a par with the off-trade in terms of value sales, which were 37:63 in favour of supermarkets and off-licences during restriction-ladened 2020 but since rules ended, it has climbed back to 50:50 in 2021 – yet this is still some distance off the 62:38 split the on-trade enjoyed in 2019.

Meanwhile, while volume share was 17:83 in the midst of Covid in 2020, it has now climbed back slightly to 24:76. The total volume sold in the on-trade reached 162m litres in 2021, which was a rise of 46.1% versus 2020.

The revival of value sales in the on-trade is made clearer by the fact the on-trade collects, on average, £7.10 per cider sold – up from £6.88 last year – versus £2.31 in the off-trade.

Across both the on and off-trade, almost 667m litres were bought by UK consumers last year, which is a decrease of 2.6% compared to 2020 but the value of cider sold is £2.32bn – an increase of 11%.

“The past few years have certainly been no picnic for pubs, bars and restaurants,” says Darryl Hinksman, head of business development at Westons Cider. “With the Omicron variant of Covid putting a dampener on what should have been a big few weeks for cider pre-Christmas, it’s no surprise we’ve still got some way to go before on-trade sales are back to 2019 levels.

“On-trade cider sales were up by over 50% last year at £1.15bn, but we’re realistic the category’s not back to where it was just yet. We believe there’s a huge opportunity for outlets to help build momentum and make the most of on-trade cider in the year ahead. This will be crucial when it comes to swinging value sales further towards the on-trade, chasing the two thirds to one third value sales split that was commonplace for the category during the 2010s.”

So back to the Year of the Apple, what does that mean? Well, according to the seventh annual Westons Cider Report 2020​, fruit-flavoured ciders have fallen out of favour for many on-trade cider drinkers. Instead, it will be traditional apple liquids that offer outlets the greatest opportunity in 2022.

Last year, apple cider represented 73.5% of draught sales (versus 72.5% in 2020), while draught fruit-flavoured variants lost significant share. Overall, apple cider represents more than a 60% share of on-trade sales.

“After years of robust growth, draught fruit cider plateaued in 2020 and then, in 2021, it slipped into decline,” explains Tim Williams, insights and innovation manager at Westons Cider. “It’s possible that interest in fruit cider has simply hit a natural ceiling. Equally, the growth of authentic apple serves indicates cider drinkers are increasingly getting behind the traditional products that have always been at the heart of the category.

“We’re predicting that 2022 will be the year of apple cider – and on-trade retailers should make sure premium and crafted apple propositions are given prominence on the bar to make the most of these thriving sub-categories.”

The research shows customers are choosing to spend more as market share in the on-trade moves from mainstream purchases to more premium brands. Data shows while mainstream options cited as the likes of Strongbow, Magners, Carling, Somersby and Kingstone are holding 52.2% of the total draught apple range, they have lost 2.2 percentage points (ppts) with an average retail sales price (RSP) of £3.53 per pint. Premium apple ciders, examples given include Stowford Press, Thatchers Gold, Thatchers Haze and Symonds, now measure 38% of total draught apple cider sales (up 1.6ppts) with an RSP of £3.89 while the ‘crafted’ apple category commands 9.8% of total draught apple sales (up 0.6ppts) with an RSP of £4.50, which counts Henry Westons Vintage, Mortimers Orchard, Aspall Cyder, Aspall Draught Cyder and Old Rosie in its portfolio.

In the fruit-flavoured sector, Strongbow Dark Fruit remains the market leader with 63% share, a reduction of 3.2ppts from December 2020 as new draught fruit ciders become established, including Old Mout Berries & Cherries, Cornish Rattler Berry & Stowford Press Mixed Berries.

Meanwhile, packaged cider has grown share from 23.2% in December 2020 to just over 26% of the total cider category in Jan 2022. The report states this has been down to operational reasons and is being driven by the growth in packaged fruit as volume shifts from the front of the bar back to the chiller as draught fruit taps have been removed due to keg rationalisation and reduced footfall. The report adds: “As cider taps become more closely scrutinised, there are increased opportunities for more premium packaged ciders, particularly in food-led outlets, be that apple, fruit or rosé.”

On the subject of crafted cider – a strong, emerging category that offers a vibrant mix of keg, bag-in-box, packaged and apple and fruit formats – and more premium brands, Williams says: “At their core, crafted ciders represent authenticity, provenance, quality ingredients and craftsmanship. Trends that are highly appealing to today’s cider drinkers.

“Meanwhile, premiumisation continues to reign supreme and in 2021 share continued to move from mainstream to more premium brands (47.8% up from 44.4% in 2019).

“Last year, premium and crafted brands accounted for almost half (47.8%) of draught apple sales. Combined, these products command between 36p and 97p more per pint than their mainstream counterparts, so they offer outlets an opportunity to drive value sales via trade-ups.”

Category hot spots

Westons Cider Report 2022

• On-trade cider sales were worth £1,153m (up 50.4% from 2020) in 2021. With a year of unrestricted cider sales ahead – plus an increase in the average price per pint by 13p to £4.03, during 2021, sales are set to blossom in 2022

• Draught cider sales are up 40.2% (on 2020) and it now accounts for 73.8% of cider sold, while packaged cider is experiencing something of a renaissance, growing in share to just over 26% of cider by January 2022 driven by keg rationalisation

• Bag-in-box ciders give an opportunity to add incremental sales with a highly versatile format

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Younger people are cider fans

Statistics from Insights specialist Lumina Intelligence show cider drinkers to generally be younger people and marginally less affluent than the average alcohol drinker – some 60% of cider drinkers are in the ABC1 category (upper middle class, middle class and low middle class) versus 62% in other alcohol consumers. When it comes to age, the largest sector of cider drinkers comes from the 25 to 34-year-old bracket with this being the second highest category for consumers of other alcohol products.

Regionally, it is the West Midlands, south-west, Wales and Northern Ireland that overtrades with cider compared to the average alcohol consumption of other products. Although London and the south-east have larger percentages that consume cider, it trades slightly below other forms of alcohol.

However, some 79% of cider drinkers are very quality-led, highlighting the importance of good-quality cider and communicating this to consumers. Compared to the typical alcohol drinkers, cider drinkers are more likely to be value-led and health conscious. While quality must not be compromised, it’s important for cider brands to be ensure they are considered good value for money, according to Lumina. Additionally, since cider drinkers are more likely to be health conscious, there is scope for more ‘healthy’ low-calorie cider options.

Sport is seen as a good occasion for cider sales. More people in the UK drink cider while watching sport at a pub than other types of alcohol and the same goes for a date night while a get-together with friends or family is rated as the biggest occasion to drink cider and is identical to doing so while enjoying other alcoholic drinks.

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A greater understanding

One gentleman who knows the cider category is The Ciderologist Gabe Cook, who is always armed with a fine moustache and bags of charm.

Cook is an award-winning global cider expert and campaigner who you may have seen on TV as the regular face of cider on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch​. His mission is to try to get the great British and global public and, crucially, the drinks trade more understanding, knowledgeable and passionate about the category.

In his role as an independent advocate for cider, he writes, talks, teaches, tastes and trains. He explains: “So often there isn't enough nuance or understanding about the amazing breadth of opportunities and types and styles that exist for cider. It’s often pigeonholed as being a single thing, or it’s a sweet thing or just a summer thing but it can be all of those things and so much more.”

So the question a pub operator needs to ask is why should I stock cider?

Cook says cider has a completely unique flavour profile compared to beers and wines, and it offers a drinking opportunity for a variety of occasions. Yes, it can be the summer thirst-quencher but can also be that really refreshing drink, something to you have with a meal, something that you can ‘pop’ when celebrating, one to sit and savour, as examples.

He adds: “I want to ensure operators know there is a fantastic burgeoning craft cider market as well. It isn’t identical to what we saw with craft beer because cider isn’t beer. From a production point of view, they’re entirely different – you brew beer and you make cider. We now have a huge number of fantastic smaller producers, putting the raw materials at the absolute forefront of that product. For cider that means apples, so we are talking about specific apple varieties and knowing how they taste completely differently from one another just like with different grape varietals for wine, and different hop and malt varieties [for beer].

“You can go into virtually any pub today and there will be some fantastic pale ales or bitters on hand-pulls, Guinness on tap, two or three great lagers, at least one IPA and they’ll have a fantastic wine list plus a number of spirits but there might just be one cider on tap and maybe a fruit cider in the fridge. And that’s it, that’s the sole extent to what these people think cider is but it’s not their fault because they’ve been told that that’s all cider is.”

He explains taking a punt on craft cider could pay dividends and the attitude of not stocking a more expensive cider than a mainstream one is akin to a not selling a craft beer because core lager can be purchased more cheaply. Ideally, Cook would like to see a line given over to a craft cider-maker’s product to explore the opportunity of bringing new drinkers into the fold.

It’s not just draught that cider can help with. Bottles can be stocked in the fridge and can be “playful and fun” according to Cook, who adds: “Whether it be big bold tannins or zingy acidity or hopped or other kinds of fruit flavours, there is an opportunity. It’s obviously an old drink but there’s the presentation of it and we could have a bit of a movement a little bit like we have seen with craft beer.”

A key brand to stock

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By Kopparberg – https://kopparberg.co.uk/

As the best-selling fruit cider brand in the UK1 ​and with more drinkers than any other cider brand2​, Kopparberg should be a key brand on bar and in fridges to excite your drinkers and keep them coming back for more as they seek out refreshing, sessionable drinks this summer.

Not only does the Kopparberg broad portfolio contain the top two best-selling packaged ciders in the UK (#1 Strawberry & Lime and #2 Mixed Fruit1​) but last summer, Mixed Fruit Tropical becoming the most successful cider launch of 20213​, cementing itself as a must-stock in the category. Much of the Kopparberg cider portfolio is available in multiple formats to meet venue and consumer needs; across 500ml bottle, 330ml can and alcohol-free. In fact, Kopparberg Strawberry & Lime is also available on draught; perfect for premiumising draught cider options and catering to the growing demand for enhanced in venue experiences.

This summer, Kopparberg unveils its first ever limited-edition label, with a disruptive design across Strawberry & Lime, Mixed Fruit and Pear. As these limited-edition designs hit the market, expect customer demand for the brand to increase, bringing additional excitement and engagement to the fruit cider category.

Beyond cider, Kopparberg’s range of flavoured spirits (gin, vodka and rum) speak to young adult drinkers who are looking for big flavour and excitement as they progress from cider into spirits/cocktails, and as the number one alcohol brand for young drinkers (18-24)4​, adding Kopparberg spirits to menus are a great way to attract these valuable customers to your venues.

Sources: 1. CGA On Premise Data, Packaged Cider, MAT to 01/01/2022., 2. Kantar, Total Market, Fruit Cider, Buyers, 52wk/e 05.09.21. 3. IRI, Ext MarketPlace, Value Sales, 52wks to 20/02/22., 4. Savanta Top 100 Most Loved Drinks Brands report, n=48,000, Jan ‘21-Jun ’21

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East, west and flavoured

Given the theoretical task of putting three types of cider on at a pub, The Ciderologist is keen to explain his decision in choosing an ‘eastern counties-style’ line, a ‘western counties-style’ option and a flavoured cider too.

He says: “I would go for a cider that’s been made with eating apples/dessert apples, which is sometimes called an ‘eastern counties-style’ of cider. Often, it’s quite good to do an analogy with wine because we are talking about a fruit fermentation so this one would be a little bit more white wine-esque. For a white wine drinker, this would be an easy substitution for somebody who doesn’t like beer but doesn’t want to have the high alcohol of a wine go to one of these lovely light, clean, crisp, fresh, acid-driven ciders. Something from Kentish Pip or Nightingale, or something like that, would be absolutely fantastic.

“Option two would be a classic ‘western counties-style’ of cider. This is a cider made with specific varieties of apple that have been grown for centuries for the sole purpose of making cider. They contain large quantities of tannin, like you would get in a red wine but it’s not to the same extent of that but it does provide some mouthfeel, structure, boldness and some mouth-drying sensation called ‘astringency’. This is what people will call a quite dry cider. These are classic to Herefordshire, Somerset and Devon, and these are the apples that the likes of Westons and Thatchers use but they dilute their ciders so they’re sort of lightweight and gentle but you could have some more robust and full-bodied cider.

“They could be of the exact same level of sweetness but they will taste completely differently because the apples that have been used are completely different. And something I’m very keen to try to make the trade and consumer understand is that it’s not just about dry, medium, sweet, it’s about what type of cider is underneath there.

“The third choice would be a flavoured cider because it’s such an important part of the UK category today. Not all flavoured ciders have to be fruit ciders even though the vast majority are. I want to demonstrate fruit ciders don’t have to be incredibly sweet with artificial colours, flavours and aromas – you can actually use real fruits in clever quantities that marry and work with the ciders. Also, it doesn’t have to be dark fruit, of course, you could use elderflower or use something like hops, for example.”

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Food pairing

In the same way, wine matches well with food, cider can do the same thing. Cook explains that because cider possesses characters found in wines such as acid, tannins, fruitiness and sweetness, food pairing is a great way to present cider.

He says if the food served at your pub is light, which would include fish, seafood or salads, you could serve an eastern counties-style cider while if the food is more robust, for example using meat, then a western counties-style cider would pair well but he stresses there are no hard and fast rules so try to keep it playful and experimental.

Molson Coors Beverage Company on-trade category controller Mark Bentley adds: “Consumers are beginning to explore how they can pair new innovations in cider with their favourite dishes in the same way as has traditionally been done with wine.

“Premium ciders in particular are a natural accompaniment to meals and a good way to drive incremental sales, so think about how options such as Aspall Cyder can complement your food menu.”

He cites examples as using Aspall Draught, which he says has a delicate, fruity complexity that works with sweet and sour dishes and fish curries, as well as desserts like apple pie while the dry, floral tones of Aspall Premier Cru work well with roast pork and North African dishes like tagines, as well as cheeses like White Stilton and Red Leicester.

Bentley also says the full-bodied Aspall Imperial Cyder is a perfect foil to rich dishes like lamb, pheasant and casseroles, as well as strong cheeses including Brie, Blue Stilton and Stinking Bishop and Aspall Organic’s earthy, rustic qualities make it an ideal accompaniment to Moroccan and Asian foods.

However, according to Lumina cider is less likely to be consumed with meals so operators could steal a march by making it more popular.

It’s a close call but while cider and beer are likely to be consumed with dinner to an identical amount, this is three percentage points behind total alcohol, meaning wine is likely to be a more popular choice. The same pattern is true of lunch with beer and cider clocking up the same figures as food accompaniments while just one percentage point behind total alcohol.

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Consider a cider festival 

As summer approaches, ciders are always popular at pubs and Cook recommends potentially hosting cider festivals, which could be the method of drawing craft beer drinkers into the cider category.

He explains: “What I would really like to see is people being given the opportunity to have trials with cider and for them to explore the full opportunity. I would invite pubs to host cider festivals, whereby pubs can undertake a little bit of trial with their consumers with a range of these ciders to see which ones they enjoy.

“I would ask operators to look beyond cider-makers that present themselves as being real or craft or traditional but probably don’t really represent the best of cider-making and to actually seek out true craft makers and go to those people who are growing, picking and squeezing the apples to find cider with real integrity. These are the ones that are going to be able to bring craft beer consumers into cider.

“We’ve reached peak craft beer… we’re probably already on the other side and those drinkers are going to need something different to keep them drinking through the lines. And this is where craft cider has the opportunity. So go for keg cider, go for true craft cider, have a cider festival, try some of these new great ciders see what people like.”

The Westons Cider Report 2022​ gives its predictions on the shape of things to come in 2022 and lists five things to expect.

  • Premiumisation remains a driving force with consumers drinking less but better quality. Cider volume is expected to recover in 2022 to near 2019 levels with value growth predicted for both on and off-trade channels.
  • Cider consumers are predominantly younger, visit pubs, bars and restaurants more frequently, and spend more on food and drink per month than the average British consumer so that is set to be the case still in 2022.
  • ‘Low and no’ goes from strength to strength with 6% of consumers now engage with such cider varieities making this cider format a ‘must stock’ for apple and fruit within outlets. In the coming months, value growth is expected as volume per buyer increases.
  • Expect a rise in the use of tech and digitisation – following Covid-restricted drinking, the use of technology and digitalisation of venues has now become the norm and presents an opportunity to re-engage with customers and tell brand ‘stories’, driving on-trade trial and brand loyalty.
  • And finally, Westons says outdoor occasions have gained prominence over the past two years as outlets have invested in improving outdoor spaces. Drinkers who choose venues for their outdoor areas tend to be less sensitive to price, so there’s opportunity to grow value sales via trade-up options.

Also strong on the ‘low and no’ message are drinks maker Heineken and retailer Wise Bartender.

“Following the explosion of alcohol-free beers into the market it became inevitable the next innovation was likely to be a premium alcohol-free cider,” says Tom Ward, founder and chief executive of alcohol-free drinks retailer Wise Bartender.

After discussions with cider producer Crafty Nectar, the businesses made Crafty Nectar 0.5 – a Somerset cider using West Country apples that it claims is a medium-sweet, zingy cider that it believes is the first alcohol-free cider to be available to the on-trade on draught and it could fill a space in a pub operator’s fridge through its 330ml and 500ml bottles.

Supplied in 30-litre key kegs, the 0.5% ABV cider “provides the option for anyone who is not drinking alcohol to enjoy a fresh, crisp and tasty cider that is dispensed on the bar, creating theatre and anticipation as the sparkling, golden liquid hits the glass”. 

Ward adds: “The collaboration has shown it is possible to produce a full-bodied, alcohol-free cider and our decision to supply it on draught as an alternative format to the existing bottle options will support pubs and bars that are serious about offering genuine alcohol-free choice for customers and will do so in a sustainable way.

“We are seeing an increasing number of venues stocking more alcohol-free drinks in response to growing consumer demand, which was highlighted in recent Portman Group research that showed 32% of UK drinkers now consume low and no-alcohol products semi-regularly compared to 25% in 2020.”

Earlier this year, Heineken UK launched two new flavours to Old Mout: Strawberry & Apple and Pineapple & Raspberry Alcohol Free. The company says Old Mout Pineapple & Raspberry Alcohol Free “taps into the growing alcohol-free trend, with 36% of Brits having recently drunk an alcohol alternative in the on-trade (CGA No/Low Report 2021). These recent launches gives pubs and bars even more chance to tap into high consumer demand for refreshing ciders this spring and summer.”

Get ready for summer with Westons Cider

Westons Stowford Press

By Westons – https://www.westons-cider.co.uk/

With summer fast approaching, it’s crucial pubs and bars get their cider offering right to maximise value sales. Enter Stowford Press, the premium mainstream option which is also the UK’s third largest draught apple cider brand*. Produced by fourth generation family cider makers, Westons Cider, Stowford Press is a must-stock for on-trade retailers year-round, and even more so as the days get warmer and the evenings lighter.

“Cider over-indexes during outdoor drinking and sport watching occasions,” explains Darryl Hinksman, Head of Business Development at Westons Cider.

“What’s more, as social occasions return to normal following a challenging two years, people are in the mood to treat themselves with a premium offering. So, with plenty of bank holidays on the horizon, outlets can capitalise on the celebratory mood by stocking Stowford Press, the cider with the highest price per pint compared to all competitor mainstream apple brands*.”

Install any cider from the Westons range and receive a free keg plus a premium PoS kit. For more information visit www.westons-cider.co.uk​.

*CGA On-Premise Measurement Service, P10 09/10/2021

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Choose wisely 

Choosing the right ciders will be key for many operators where cider sales increase over the summer, says Thatchers Cider on-trade sales director Rob Sandall, who adds operators need to have a range that will appeal to their core customers.

Apple cider dominates the draught cider market, accounting for three out of every four draught serves with premium brands showing the strongest growth. (Source: CGA OPM Data to P13 2021 (01/01/2022); CGA Future Shock Report)

Thatchers says its Haze and Gold variants are leading the way and extolled the virtues of its 3 in 1 Fusion Font that features Dark Berry, Cloudy Lemon and Thatchers Blood Orange flavoured ciders.

Sandall says: “We’re seeing three key drinks trends at the moment – people opting for premium choices and serves, the growing importance of low and no drinks and people choosing brands they trust.

“Recent research has shown 70% of consumers now feel more confident about returning to the pub – that’s double that of the same time last year so this presents a fantastic opportunity for pubs to welcome customers back with open arms as footfall increases.

“Occasion is important – we’re seeing people return to the pub for celebratory occasions, for meeting friends/family they haven’t seen for some time, the premium experience becomes ever more important. The experience has to be better than at home to keep customers returning – so make it special.”

He also says cider cocktails are a great way of premiumising a pub’s offer and adding theatre to your menu, and adds a venue’s cider selection and cocktail menu must be added to your digital menus because recent research has shown that 48% of people now want to react digitally when in the pub (Source for Thatchers Cider statistics: CGA OPM Data to P13 2021 (01/01/2022); CGA Future Shock Report).

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Make sure the numbers add up

Heineken UK on-trade category and commercial strategy director Charlie Fryday believes cider’s importance to the financial success of an outlet should not be underplayed, with one sixth of on-trade consumers drinking in the category (CGA Distilr, Oct 2021), it generates an average of £19,000 of revenue per pub and bar annually – more revenue than white (£5k), red (£3k) and rosé (£1k) wine combined (CGA Strategy – 29 Jan 2022).

Mainstream apple continues to dominate with 75% of cider drinkers buying from this category, worth £11,000 on average to a venue per year. Flavoured cider appeals to a similar number of consumers, with around half of all cider drinkers switching between apple and flavoured depending on the occasion, with mainstream flavoured cider delivering around £9,000 on average per outlet (CGA Strategy – 29 January 2022 & CGA Distilr – October 2021).

rekorderlig old mout

Apple cider from the mainstream category accounts for 50% of draught cider sales, equating to one in every two pints of cider sold (CGA Strategy, 29 January 2022). Packaged apple is worth £125m to the trade each year, while total packaged cider is valued at over £560m, with premium flavoured accounting for 68% of all packaged cider sold (CGA Strategy, 29 January 2022).

In the past 12 months, total cider revenue rose by 91% as pubs opened again to £850m, with draught dominating at 68.3% of all sales (CGA Strategy 52 w/e 29 January 2022). Heineken cites its Strongbow Original, Strongbow Dark Fruit as obvious choices for pub operators to sell but also states its more premium brands such as Old Mout and Orchard Thieves as additions too.

“We’d suggest maintaining top sellers on draught, such as a mainstream apple cider and a mainstream fruit cider, then add variety and interest with bottled products from the fridge, which can be more easily rotated and offer venues a longer use by date,” Fryday says. “Heineken UK continues to push the category forward with new launches and product innovation in packaged and draught formats, including the launch of Inch’s cider in 2021, Old Mout’s Watermelon and Lime in 2021 and Old Mout Berries & Cherries Alcohol Free Cider, and two new flavours this year [in Old Mout Strawberry & Apple and Old Mout Pineapple & Raspberry Alcohol Free.

Heineken adds Old Mout will launch summer serve cocktail kits to help operators entice customers to their venues. This kit includes carafes, wooden caddies, mugs and recipe books, covering both 4% and 0.0% ABV cocktails, which are perfect for both indoors and in pub gardens. Getting the basics right, however, will always add to a customers’ positive experience of a venue and all outlets should ensure their ciders (and beers) are stored at the right temperature, poured correctly and are served in the right, branded glassware. 

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Drive summer sales

Trends matter according to Molson Coors’ Mark Bentley. He says: “There is a real opportunity for outlets to drive more cider sales over the summer months. The key for suppliers and operators alike is to stay close to the latest consumer trends and deliver innovations that consumers are going to love.”

According to CGA data (CGA data for Total GB On Trade, 52 weeks to 29/01/22), fruit ciders deliver 42% of value sales in the cider category in the on-trade – worth more than £520m to outlets – and Bentley says it continues to evolve with new flavours and varieties to meet changing tastes and trends.

He adds: “We have noticed a shift towards more refreshing citrus and tropical flavours. This insight has informed our new product development – last year we launched Rekorderlig Pink Lemon, which is ideally placed to cater to this trend with a light, crisp citrus flavour and a hint of raspberry, reminiscent of a pink lemonade.

“We’ve followed this up with the launch of another refreshing flavoured cider, Rekorderlig Blood Orange, a flavour variant deemed to be the next big trend (source: IFF Innovation 2021 report). The launch is perfectly timed to drive excitement and interest in the category as we approach the warmer weather.

“That doesn’t mean outlets should neglect more traditional dark fruit and berry flavours, which still remain popular. They should focus on offering a broad cider range that caters to different occasions and needs.”

He also sees premiumisation continuing. “The premiumisation trend has been growing for some time now, and that momentum shows no sign of stopping. Aspall Cyder is ideally placed to meet this uplift in demand, with its provenance and unique east coast apple taste combining to create a unique option for consumers looking for something more sophisticated.

“Premium draught apple cider now accounts for more than one quarter of all draught cider sales (source: CGA data for Total GB On Trade, 52 weeks ending 29/01/22, Value Sales). To help outlets make the most of this opportunity, we expanded our premium offering further last year when Sharp’s Brewery collaborated with the Aspall Cyder House to launch Sharp’s Cold River Cider – a 4.5% ABV medium-dry apple cider with a light, crisp, and moreish flavour.”

Cold River Cider has now been listed at hundreds of stockists across the country. Read more about it here​. 

Westons’ Daryll Hinksman concludes: “We’ve already seen a significant uptick in on-trade cider sales post-pandemic and this year is set to be ever bigger.

“Looking ahead, this year’s social calendar offers bags of potential for cider spend. The upcoming four-day Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday will be a prime opportunity for cider, while the first ever winter Football World Cup in November will ensure the Christmas party season kicks off in style.

“This year, as British people plan to get back to pubs, bars and restaurants just as often, if not more frequently than last year, and as we prepare for the first full summer of unrestricted trading since 2019, we’ve got high hopes for cider sales in outlets.”

The Ciderologist Cook summarises: “Pubs are missing out on an opportunity to capture a new type of drinker and a new experience that craft cider can provide. It can provide some of the experience of beer in terms of how it’s drunk but can also capture some of the flavour characters of wine. Cider is the ultimate thirst quencher on a warm summer’s day but it can also be so much more than that. There are so many different types and styles and flavours that can appeal to a whole range of different drinkers and this new wave of craft ciders means there’s a cider for everyone.”

Yes, it could well be the Year of the Apple but that’s not to say fruit-flavoured variants will not enjoy success too. So long as it’s a year for pub operators, we’ll all be happy to have a year of almost-normal trade under our belts and, if that happens, surely there are even more better times to come in the future?

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