Summer drinkers opt for ale and spirits as lager and cider sales dip

Lager and cider suffered dwindling sales over the summer months as shoppers turned to spirits and ales instead, according to the latest Nielsen data.

Cider was down 6% in value and lager dropped 4% in the 12 weeks to September 13, while wine was down 1% – but spirits grew 3%.

The one shining light in long drinks was premium bottled ales, which grew 10% in value over the same period.

Greene King’s performance has seen it overtake John Smith’s supplier Heineken as the leading supplier in the PBA category by value for the first time (Nielsen, year to September 13) with 18.3% of sales. Head of take-home Neil Jardine told OLN: “It has not been a great summer for beer and cider. Premium lager has done reasonably well, driven by some heavy discounting. Cider has gone into a steep decline.

“When there are big lager discounts at a key time such as the summer then cider is affected. It’s positive to see that PBAs weren’t affected.

“These numbers would give reassurance that consumers seek out this category and it is less prone to the vagaries of price cuts in other categories.”

Shopper penetration of the premium bottled ale category has risen 4% in the past year (Kantar, year to September 14), but almost three in four people still don’t shop the category, so Jardine feels buoyant about continued success.

Meanwhile, cider penetration dropped 2% in the past year.

Alcohol value sales were flat during the summer period, but a more optimistic picture emerges from analysis of the past year.

In the 52 weeks to September 13, total alcohol sales were up 2% in value (Nielsen). Premium bottled ale outgrew the market, up 10%, but there were also strong performances from lager (up 2%), cider (up 3%) and spirits (up 3%), while wine sales were flat.

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