But operators must strike a balance in the fridge in order to maximise sales
FROM core apple and pear variants to the plethora of fruit and berry combinations, cider is as diverse as drinks categories come.
Since Magners’ arrival on the scene a decade ago, cider’s popularity has soared – as has the number of brands and flavoured variants on the market.
While apple remains the nation’s favourite flavour of cider, new research by Mintel (see page cider-still apple of the trades eye) claims the pear and flavoured segments are showing “striking signs of growth”.
A number of cider firms would seem to agree with the findings.
Producers and distributors contacted by SLTN last week credited the emergence of new flavours and limited edition or seasonal variants with contributing to the buoyancy of the sector – providing new products coming to the market represent ‘genuine’ innovation.
Rob Calder, head of marketing for Swedish cider Kopparberg, whose core range includes Naked Apple, Pear, Mixed Fruit, Strawberry & Lime and Elderflower & Lime variants, told SLTN there remains scope for new flavours and further sales growth, so long as the category is not flooded with new variants.
It’s for this reason he said Kopparberg advocates the introduction of seasonal or limited edition ciders, like Cloudberry and Raspberry, over permanent additions to the range.
“We’re clear that we’re not on the flavour conveyor belt,” said Calder.
“People won’t see a big swathe of new flavours from us in 2013, we want to focus on what we’ve got.
“Launching seasonal variants allows us to satisfy consumer demand for new flavours without saturating the market.”
It’s an approach that appears to be shared by cider producer Aspall.
Barry Chevallier Guild, a partner in the firm, said a seasonal approach to launching new flavours and variants could help avoid flooding the market.
“We would issue a note of caution on the development of fruit ciders and believe it won’t be long until that part of the market reaches saturation point,” he said.
“In our opinion, there is not an inherent demand for some of the more recently-launched products that, in our view, do not add true innovation and value to the category. However, time will no doubt tell.”
Gareth Whittle, managing director of Chilli Marketing, which markets Rekorderlig, also advocates introducing limited edition variants, claiming Rekorderlig Winter Cider has helped give the brand year-round appeal.
“Consumers still need choice within the same sector, which is why we continuously develop new, innovative flavours,” he said.
“We’ve just announced the new limited edition Passionfruit flavour, which will be available in bottles this summer.
“Over the next five years publicans will continue to see more innovative and quality flavours from Rekorderlig and further investment in the brand to make it move through their outlets.”
Bulmers owner Heineken also predicts further growth in flavoured cider. It has just added two new variants to the Bulmers range – Bold Black Cherry and Pressed Red Grape – and is set to rename its No 17 variant as Crushed Red Berries & Lime.
“The modern packaged cider segment continues to dominate the on-trade market as consumers continue to seek out and trial new flavours,” said Darryl Hinksman, head of on-trade customer marketing at Heineken.
Matthew Showering, managing director at Brothers Cider, whose range includes Strawberry, Toffee Apple and Wild Fruit variants, agreed that consumer demand for flavoured cider is growing.
“Innovation within the market appears to be a big factor in driving the sector forward, which has certainly been the driving force behind the growth of the fruit cider category, which is now bigger in volume and value terms than the pear cider category,” he said.
And it’s not just demand for flavoured cider that seems to be increasing.
As with beer, craft products also appear to be enjoying a buoyant spell.
Greg MacNeice of Northern Irish cider MacIvors, predicts further growth for craft cider. “I believe that the future is very bright for cider, even in a mature cider market like the UK and Ireland, as craft producers become more marketing savvy,” he said.
“There is certainly a good niche in the market from which to grow new micro-brands. Beer has done this very successfully, so why not cider?”
Peter Stuart, cider maker at Scottish craft brand Thistly Cross, said consumers are becoming more experimental with different styles and flavours of cider.
“Thanks to the craft movement, people are rediscovering a completely different drink.” he said.
“Consumers are using craft cider as a platform to discover lots of new tastes and aromas.”
Luke Wade, director of Proof Drinks, which distributes Swedish craft cider Briska, said: “Cider attracts an extremely diverse age range of drinkers and many consumers now include cider within their drinks repertoire.”