Time to mull over winter cider options

Licensees can continue to grow cider sales in the coming months, say drinks firms

PROLONGED spell of warm weather and a healthy dose of football saw cider sales bolstered in bars across the country this summer. But the party isn’t over, say drinks firms, who reckon there are opportunities to grow cider sales throughout the winter.

“Too often cider is seen exclusively as a summer thirst quencher, and while its cold, crisp and refreshing taste does pair perfectly with the sunshine, its popularity in the winter is on the rise,” said Amy Burns, marketing manager at Savanna cider’s parent firm, Distell.

Reinforcing this stance, Anthony Clarey, on-trade sales director at Kopparberg, told SLTN the cider category is in rude health and while a great summer “has maximised sales potential, cider is no longer only favoured as a seasonal option”.

“Fruit cider is a large part of a consumer’s [drinks] repertoire,” he said. “It is not only consumed in the summer months but all year round; therefore, to maintain growth, it is important that an operator’s range includes both packaged and draught cider.”

Burns of Distell agreed that the right range is critical to boosting cider sales in the coming months.

She said: “Introducing a selection of mulled or warmed ciders, and having a branded [water] urn on display can add theatre and the fruity aroma of mulled cider is certain to draw customers in from the cold.”

Colette Cumbes of craft cider firm, Celtic Marches, echoed Burns’ view.

She told SLTN that mulled cider is “finding increasing popularity over the winter months, as are fruit ciders”, but added that there is more than one reason that cider sales continue to grow.

“The movement of cider from the back fridges to the taps has improved its sales,” she explained.

“With cider taps on the increase, cider sales and its popularity are seeing a significant rise. Operators should consider a permanent cider tap for their bars and aim to offer an apple cider alongside a fruit option.”

However, Cumbes added that stocking a mix of draught and packaged cider allows licensees “to meet a wider range of customer needs”.

Clarey of Kopparberg also sees the merit in offering a diverse cider range which can cater to various occasions.

“Getting the basics [right] is fundamental to any range and will build credibility, as well as maintaining growth,” he said.

“From a packaged perspective, Kopparberg encourages all operators to focus on stocking the big hitters, the proven winners and the true innovators. By stocking these products on the top shelf of the fridges and in clear view of the customer, operators ensure they are clearly visible, making customer decisions easier and, in turn, maximising profits through increased packaged sales.”

It’s important to keep on top of packaged trends too, according to Glen Friel of Aston Manor Cider, who said: “Over the last few years there has certainly been a trend in the premium cider market that smaller 330ml can formats are becoming an essential to have behind the bar alongside the draught range and they are very popular with younger, affluent drinkers.”

And once an operator has the right range in place, it is vital that it is effectively marketed to the masses, reckons Friel, who said “the key is to shout about it and encourage consumers to experiment with a new brand or new occasion”.