Cider sales can blossom in spring

Operators who keep abreast of the trends will reap the rewards, say drinks firms

AS the seasons change, so should the drinks focus in bars and pubs.

And with spring almost upon us, now is a good time for operators to focus on their cider offer, drinks firms told SLTN.

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However, licensees must stock the right range of cider in order to see their sales blossom, according to Rob Sandall, on-trade sales director at Thatchers Cider.

“You should think carefully about which ciders you stock – the category is undergoing substantial change, so you need to refresh your range with the right brands that are going to work for you,” he said.

“We’d advise to stock draught apple cider as your number one cider.

“Choose a strong brand that is growing and is being given above the line marketing support. Having a best-selling apple cider on the bar is a sure way to sell more cider for your customers to enjoy.”

Jerry Shedden, category and trade marketing director at Strongbow parent firm Heineken, echoed this view. Citing CGA figures, he said: “Mainstream cider is proving to be the most successful, indicative of its increasing share of the cider category.

“With over 500,000 pints poured every day, mainstream apple accounts for over two thirds of all draught cider sales and should be the first cider tap on almost every bar; it delivers the strongest volumes and guarantees the most satisfied customers.”

Shedden added that draught cider “is in growth and this is driven by flavoured cider”, which offers a “huge opportunity” for pubs to stock alternative ciders on draught.

“Flavoured cider taps into consumers being more experimental and having sweeter palates, especially those of 18 to 24 year old consumers, and so more outlets are adding a flavoured cider tap to the bar and reaping the sales benefits,” he said.

However, operators mustn’t forget about the importance of canned and bottled cider, according to Rob Salvesen, head of marketing at Kopparberg.

He said packaged fruit cider “is under-faced in on-trade fridges” – and the visibility of the product is crucial to boosting sales.

“Ensure that your packaged cider offering is visible and delivered in the perfect serve,” he added.

Collette Cumbes of craft cider firm Celtic Marches agreed, stating: “Bottles will always have their place in the fridges; we’ve seen an increase in demand for 330ml bottles, especially in fruits.

“Their sizing encourages second purchases and their price point works in favour of both buyer and [consumer].”

With the premiumisation trend looking set to continue, today’s cider range should include some more high-end offerings, reckons Shedden of Heineken.

“Our advice for operators would be to ensure they are stocking trade-up options, such as Strongbow Cloudy Apple, Old Mout and Orchard Thieves, and try to premiumise at every opportunity,” he said.

“Stand-alone fonts, point of sale and back-bar displays, coupled with successfully ranging premium options in the fridge and on the bar itself, are all tools at an outlet’s disposal to tempt consumers into trading up.”

Another opportunity to boost cider sales lies with food, according to Shedden.

He said: “Regarding food pairings, cider’s complexity, with its bittersweet taste profile, can bring out the intricacies of different flavours; however, licensees should be careful with the versatility of cider and select the range that matches their menu and customers’ palates the best.”

Salvesen of Kopparberg reckons experiences will continue “to be a key driver in consumers’ minds when choosing where to visit”, and suggested licensees offer “an added incentive in the form of a live experience or event”.