Hot summers spent in sunlit beer gardens have been a staple of the big cider brands’ TV ad campaigns for years, but it’s a message that could be lost in translation on a rainy day in July.
How then can the Scottish trade make the most of the opportunity summer creates for cider sales in a climate that offers no guarantees on the weather?
John Black of the Fort Hotel in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, reckons the weather remains a determining factor in cider’s performance at the bar.
It changes with the weather. As soon as we get a bit of good weather it’s cider season.
“It changes with the weather,” he said. “As soon as we get a bit of [good] weather it’s cider season. If the weather’s not good the cider’s not good.”
Black told SLTN that younger drinkers are increasingly migrating from RTDs to flavoured ciders.
“The flavoured ciders are popular with the mid-twenties to early thirties, normal ciders are popular with older customers,” he said.
However, not all venues are as affected by the weather when it comes to cider sales, it seems.
No 1 High Street on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile caters for a largely tourist clientele, which manager Graham Cowell-Smith said is reflected in its range of packaged and draught ciders, which includes hand pulled Westons Scrumpy, Magners Golden Draught and a Scottish cider, Thistly Cross Traditional.
“We’re a tourist pub and the tourists seem to prefer draught,” he told SLTN.
“Sometimes they go for a brand they like and sometimes you can encourage them to try something else. I always try to push the Scottish cider first.”
With an ever expanding roster of cider flavours in both draught and packaged formats, choosing stock wisely could be key to exploiting the ongoing popularity of the category.
Chris Jowsey, trading director at pub company Star Pubs & Bars, said there are a number of factors licensees should consider when building their cider range.
“The decision over which ciders to stock should be based on the type of outlet, the clientele it attracts and, for packaged product, the available fridge space,” said Jowsey.
“It is imperative that licensees stock a range which provides consumers with a real choice, appealing to both traditional and experimental drinkers.
“Because cider is often an impulse purchase, awareness and visibility of packaged flavoured ciders is key. A good way to encourage impulse purchase of high margin flavoured ciders is to create back bar displays to highlight the arrival of new variants and to plan the fridge display for maximum effect.”
Stephen Martin, category manager for drinks at Punch Taverns, agreed that stocking an appropriate range is important, but also encouraged operators to take an active approach to make the most of the variety of ciders available to the on-trade.
“Licensees should be looking to feature ciders on their drinks menu and consider cider festivals,” he said.
“Similarly, it is important to review and renew the current cider range. It is also worthwhile to encourage bar staff to talk up the cider range with customers and think about improving the serve.”
Image – No 1 High Street on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile stocks a range of bottled and draught ciders.
• Value of packaged and draught apple cider sales in Scottish on-trade up 10.7% to £92.3m.
• Value of packaged and draught fruit cider sales in Scottish on-trade up 7.8% to £24m.
• Value of packaged and draught pear cider sales in Scottish on-trade down 38.1% to £7.8m.
Source: CGA Strategy; year to March 2013