Make the most of cider by mixing up premium and mainstream

Feature: Summer Drinks

Pint of beer on a bar in a traditional style pub

SCOTLAND’S pub and bar operators can expect to see more new exotic fruit flavoured ciders in the coming years as companies look to corner the crucial 18 to 34 age group.

That was the prediction from the most recent Heineken Cider Report, which stated that 18 to 34 year-olds now account for more than half of cider drinkers overall.

And they’re said to be particularly interested in premium and flavoured products, with brand owners responding through new flavours and varieties. 

Mainstream apple is the biggest seller in draught, with flavoured more popular in the fridge. 

Flavoured packaged ciders were said to be ‘key to generating more trade-up sales opportunities’ in pubs, with premium varieties making up two thirds of all packaged cider sales. 

That said, draught ciders continue to be must-stock products for pubs, with draught accounting for 70% of cider sales across the UK. 

Heineken, which owns cider brands including Strongbow, Bulmers, Inch’s and Old Mout, reported that mainstream apple ciders continue to be the biggest sellers in draught, accounting for 62% of volume and 59% of value.

Therefore the company advised that outlets with a solitary cider tap should dedicate it to apple, with a second tap committed to a flavoured draught cider. 

However, in the fridge the stats were flipped, with premium flavoured ciders accounting for the lion’s share of sales. 

It’s important to have both bases covered, said the report, as around half of all cider drinkers will switch between apple and flavoured ciders depending on the occasion. 

And so operators were advised to use whatever signage and social media channels were available to them, to make sure their range was as visible as possible.

Within premium flavoured cider, berry flavours were said to remain the top sellers, but with more exotic flavours growing in popularity. 

As with other drinks categories, low and no-alcohol products were said to be increasingly important to cider drinkers, with 36% of British bar and pub customers having tried an ‘alcohol alternative’ in the course of the past year. Though it’s coming from a relatively low base, alcohol-free was said to be the fastest-growing section of the cider market, having quadrupled its share of cider sales in the past five years and value having grown three-fold over the past year. 

Overall, cider sales in UK pubs were said to be worth over £1.5 billion annually (having increased by 2% over the past year), with 870,000 pints sold every day and two million bottles sold every week.

Cider is arguably the most innovative and trend-first drinks segment of all time. 

And while the category is no longer seen as a ‘seasonal’ summer drink, cider sales were said to perform better during the warmer months.

“Unlike other categories, such as beer and spirits, cider hasn’t premiumised at the same rate,” said Stephen Watt, on-trade director at Heineken UK.

“But it is arguably the most innovative and trend-first drinks segment of all time. Cider, notably Strongbow, kicked off the dark fruit trend in the UK drinks industry, with many categories taking inspiration from the combination since.

“Cider continues to drive flavour innovation in the drinks market, showcasing the success of new products with the likes of Old Mout which is driving forward premium flavoured packaged and draught sales in outlets.”

Watt added that the main opportunity for growing cider sales lies in ‘trading consumers up into premium and flavoured segments, while also supporting the mainstream stalwarts on the bar’.