Cider rides stormy weather to continue strong growth

21 September, 2007

Latest figures show beer sales suffered in damp, football-free summer

Beer sales have taken a big hit and cider continued its relentless march up the sales charts in the latest off-trade figures released by Nielsen.

According to data for the year to Aug 11, beer sales were down 1 per cent in both value and volume terms - a picture that was marginally worse in the on-trade.

Stout and ale fared the worst, down 3 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. Lager was static - though when inflation is taken into account this is effectively a sales downturn. Its volumes slipped by 1 per cent.

Although the weather will be used as an excuse by brewers and retailers, the damp summer has not damaged cider sales. Value was up 27 per cent in the off-trade and 20 per cent in volume terms. The on-trade did even better, registering a 40 per cent sales increase.

Light wine - which excludes sparkling and fortified - appears to be firmly back in recovery mode with a 6 per cent increase in sales. Champagne was up 8 per cent and port up 2 per cent, though sherry's problems persist with a 3 per cent decline.

Brand Phoenix director Steve Barton praised retailers for their work in achieving wine growth. "As we learn more and more about buying habits, wine is coming out of the wine aisle and into centre stage in the groc ery market," he said.

"The definition of the offer is getting clearer too as there are fewer lines on promotion at any one time. Consumers like that."

Blended whiskies were down 1 per cent, although malts were up 6 per cent and imported whiskeys by 12 per cent. A surprise top performer was golden rum, which saw growth almost as spectacular as that of cider.

The off-trade as a whole saw growth double that of the on-trade at 4 per cent, bringing the value of the market to £12.2 billion.




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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