2020 was the biggest year on record for the off-trade cider category, according to Westons Cider’s sixth edition of its annual Cider Report.

Taking a deep dive into last year’s category data, the Westons Cider Report shows record growth for cider in grocery retail – up 21.2% YOY – taking overall value to £1.3bn.

The latest Westons Cider Report reveals almost half of UK households (47.7%) now buy in to the category, which attracted almost a million more shoppers in 2020. In addition, shoppers bought cider in greater volumes – averaging an additional 30 litres per household, up 9.4%.

The enforced closure of the hospitality sector for much of 2020 naturally played a part in the category’s off-trade success, but the report also shows premiumisation was a catalyst of category growth.

Tim Williams, Insight and Innovation Manager at Westons Cider, said: “The past year has been undeniably challenging for retailers and suppliers alike. The initial surge in demand in the off-trade meant that production of priority, bestselling SKUs had to be ramped up significantly. However, the outlook for the cider category is no doubt a positive one, as it has yet again shown itself to be buoyant and in high demand.

“After a year of almost continuous government restrictions, and the consequent closure of the on-trade, we’ve seen a huge swing towards the off-trade – which now accounts for 63% of cider value and 83% of cider volume (up 28% and 19% respectively).

“Looking at the specifics, the data is particularly positive for crafted cider – which was the fastest-growing segment last year – as consumers turned to more premium, higher-value offerings to mimic the out-of-home drinking experience.

“In fact, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest cider drinking occasion last year was a quiet night in – up from 19% of serves a year ago to 21.6% of serves in 2020 – and, with this came just short of a million new shoppers into the category.

“The challenge now is for cider brands to keep engaging with these new consumers to help the off-trade retain some of the share it picked up in 2020, even as pubs, bars and restaurants reopen. And as shopper habits continue to evolve in 2021, we’re confident that the clear appetite for cider demonstrated through last year’s significant off-trade growth spells good news for the category overall.”

Westons sixth annual Cider Reports reveals growth of crafted cider continues to significantly outpace the overall category (up 48.7% versus 21.2%).

These higher-value, traditional ciders continue to drive trade-up, and have become especially important over the past year as consumers looked to authentic, heritage brands for products they could count on to deliver a high-quality serve at home.
Sally McKinnon, Head of Marketing at Westons Cider said: “The figures suggest that stocking premium, branded lines with provenance and heritage will unlock a significant sales opportunity for retailers. However, there’s still a huge untapped opportunity to drive premiumisation and value growth across the wider category.

“Understanding cider drinkers’ motivations and the new opportunities beyond Covid will be integral to this, and innovations within other fast-growing subcategories could help to spread value growth more evenly across the category.”

Darryl Hinksman, Head of Business Development at Westons Cider: “As the on-trade readies itself for reopening in April, you might expect grocery cider sales to suffer. However, our research suggests the future is looking bright for the UK off-trade.

“A summer of sport and the possibility of meeting with wider circles of friends and family will undoubtedly drive both out-of-home and in-home drinking occasions.

“Over the past year, UK grocery retail has played a crucial role in maintaining presence and momentum for the cider category. The sheer popularity of crafted ciders, the emergence of diverse offerings within the cloudy and rosé subcategories and the growth of the online and convenience channels have played a key part in this, and we expect these factors to remain important throughout the year ahead.

“Once again, our Cider Report paints a clear picture of the ever-evolving cider category, which continues to show itself to be dynamic and in-demand among an increasingly diverse audience.”