“With lager companies now also looking to capitalise on the growth in the UK cider market, it seems that the nation’s desire for this fruity drink shows no signs of losing fizz just yet. Indeed, according to new research from Mintel, three in five adults (60%) now drink cider, significantly up from the previous year’s total of 47%. This progress means that in 2012, a greater share of adults drank cider than spirits (57%).

Indeed, cider is even closing in on beer in terms of usage, a market which has struggled to retain its base of drinkers in recent years, standing at 70% in 2012. While its recent successes have helped a number of cider producers to grow rapidly, Mintel research shows that the market’s future prospects could be equally positive as, even among cider drinkers, 23% state that it does not always occur to them to drink it. Further boosting the visibility of the drink in the on- and off-trade could therefore reap spectacular rewards for operators.

Chris Wisson, Senior Drinks Analyst at Mintel said:

“Cider continues to stand out as one of the star performers among alcoholic drinks markets. Usage has flourished in recent years as the market has improved its image, with strong growth at the premium tier. The market has also performed well on the back of its accessibility, with its accessible flavour profiles helping to attract new users such as women and 18-34 year-olds. While many drinks markets are struggling to grow in real terms and are also hampered by the government’s tax escalator, cider is one of the anomalous success stories which is also showing underlying volume growth.”

Cider is in fact one of the few success stories in the alcoholic drinks landscape, achieving steady growth despite the economic downturn. Over the last five years sales of cider have increased by 32% to reach £2.7 billion in 2012, up from £1.8 billion in 2007 and with sales increasing 5% in the last year alone. Meanwhile volume sales have posted slower growth, although the market still managed overall growth of 18% between 2007 and 2012.

The success of cider looks set to continue in the coming years, with new producers continuing to build momentum and with strong consumer demand leading to a better range of ciders in both the on- and off-trade sales channels. Over the next five years, Mintel forecasts that the market will reach sales of £3.7 billion, driven partly by duty increases but also growing user numbers.

Apple pips pear to the post

While apple remains the nation’s favourite flavour of cider, drunk by 47% of adults, there are striking signs of growth coming from the pear and flavoured segments. Pear has grown to be a firm favourite amongst cider drinkers, and is drunk by almost four in ten (37%) adults, buoyed by the entry of brands such as Strongbow and Stella Cidre into the segment. Meanwhile, almost a quarter (24%) of Brits have drunk any other type of fruit-flavoured cider, with flavours in this adventurous segment ranging from cloudberry to toffee apple.

“Pear cider is now a highly profitable segment of the market and one which producers should almost be prioritising on a par with apple cider. While apple continues to drive most of the sales, pear can also be an effective gateway into the market, with a particular appeal to female drinkers. However, pear is still underperforming in terms of appealing to older drinkers and operators may be well served in highlighting features such as a British heritage and ingredient quality to appeal to these more traditional cider drinkers.””Chris continues.

While the cider market continues to make great strides, there are still a number of challenges for producers to overcome. Many of these relate to its image as amongst lager, wine and RTD drinkers, just 8% think that cider is sophisticated while 14% think that it is worth paying more for, both of which are significantly behind associations with wine.

“While cider enjoys a range of positive associations among drinkers, such as being refreshing, natural and suitable for men and women, sophistication is an area where there is significant room for improvement. The cider market has improved its image greatly over the past decade and should continue working to evolve away from unfavourable historical associations such as those with underage and binge drinking, and towards being a sophisticated drink to be seen with.””Chris concludes.”

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