Cider's popularity matches lager for first time

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cider, Alcoholic beverage, Stella artois

Soaring cider sales are thanks to product innovation, said Mintel
Soaring cider sales are thanks to product innovation, said Mintel
Soaring cider sales, thanks to innovative product design, meant the beverage now rivals the popularity of lager, according to a new report from market research group Mintel.

Its research revealed that 47% of Britons classed themselves as cider drinkers, up from 42% 10 years ago. That compared with 46% who described themselves as lager drinkers.

Cider’s volume sales have grown by just under a quarter (24%) between 2006 and 2011. Sales have rocketed from £1.7bn to £2.4bn over the period.

In the declining pub sector, cider has performed well above the market by recording a quarter (25%) growth in revenue since 2008. But growth in real value sales was estimated at 5% between 2006 and 2011.

Jonny Forsyth, Mintel’s senior drinks analyst, told FoodManufacture.co.uk:“Cider makers have been very good at innovating around sweet flavours which attract younger consumers.

Right product at the right time

“They have had the right product at the right time and have been successful at attracting younger people from the ailing lager category, as well as from alcopops and wine.”

Describing cider as“the undisputed success story of the alcohol category over the past six years”,Mintel identified significant growth potential in the category. The firm forecasts volume sales to increase by 12% between 2011 and 2016.

Value sales are predicted to rise by a third (33%) as annual above-inflation duty continues to push up retail sales prices.“This is in a highly challenging context for alcohol but cider has had the advantage of a lower tax than[that]borne by many competitors, which it has invested wisely – especially in constant innovation,”said Forsyth.

Areas ripe for product development included the premium end of the market with more emphasis on medium and dry ciders to boost daily consumption rates and attract more mature consumers, he added.

Cider has achieved steep growth in off-trade sales over the past five years, experiencing a 67% increase in volume sales and doubling its revenues between 2006 and 2011.

Supermarket sales have grown exponentially over this period and in 2010 accounted for 40.7% of UK cider volume sales.

Storming ahead

“While cider’s competitors are catching up when it comes to sweeter flavoured taste innovations, cider is storming ahead in this area. The entry of Stella Artois from AB InBev to the cider category, alongside the continued success of ciders such as Magners and Strongbow add to the rich growth potential of the category. There is particularly space to grow the more premium segment,”said Forsyth.

Although cider has significantly increased its market penetration compared with lager, the beverage still falls massively behind lager in volume consumed. Cider’s revenue of £2.4bn last year is a fraction of the UK lager market’s total revenues of £11.4bn.

Growth in cider sales contrast with a fall in the sales of lager and declining numbers who consider themselves to be wine and beer drinkers.

Beer has seen the most dramatic fall in sales, losing £2.2bn in revenue between 2006 and 2011 mainly due to the dramatic decline of the UK pub sector.

Wine has seen a decline in the proportion of UK drinkers from 66% in 2007 to 58% last year.

The report notes a fall in the adult drinking population from 88% to 82% in the past five years.

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