NIQ senior analytics executive Jen Purchase looks at the big names in the off-trade cider business, and offers some insights into what’s going on behind the shelves
In the 12 months to April 23, the value of off-trade cider sales (including perry) declined by 2.9%, softened by underlying inflation, as volumes in the period fell by 7.3%. This follows year-on-year decline since the reopening of the on-trade, and it’s worth noting that volume and value sales are now lagging behind pre-Covid levels recorded in 2019, when value sales were £1.2 billion.
The biggest winner in retail this year has been Thatchers, with its Blood Orange flavoured NPD. The cider, which launched in March 2022, now has a spot in the top five flavoured ciders.
At the time of launch, Thatchers said Blood Orange was expected to recruit a new generation who are “already buying into the growing popularity of sophisticated orange and blood orange-flavoured soft drinks, premium spirits and IPAs”.
Inch’s, Heineken’s sustainable cider proposition which launched in April 2021, has been a success and has almost doubled sales compared to a year ago to secure its top 10 ranking.
Other brands to note are premium brands Henry Westons Vintage – which grew 11% in value and 7.4% in volume – and Thatchers Katy, up 11.6% in value and 5.5% in volume.
The biggest brands in the cider market both still belong to Heineken. Strongbow Original and Strongbow Dark Fruit both experienced another year of value decline – down 9.1% and 13.2% respectively – accompanied by even faster volume falls.
New product development is essential to growing the cider category and Strongbow is innovating to attract new consumers and maintain the interest of its current drinkers.
Strongbow Tropical was released in March and the company’s UK cider brand director Rachel Holms was widely quoted as saying the launch would “encourage new drinkers into the cider category”. The launch coincided with a bold brand redesign, backed by a £20 million marketing campaign.
Heineken also expanded its Strongbow Ultra range with a new Apple flavour, which rolled out in March and is intended to catch the eyes of younger adult drinkers.
Premium Thatchers brands Gold and Haze have performed ahead of the market in both value and volume, despite slight dips in sales in the past year.
Low and no alcohol is a promising cider segment that could appeal to younger adults, who are seemingly more health conscious.
Kopparberg, Thatchers and Heineken all saw value and volume sales growth in the low/no space in the past year. With momentum behind low/no drinks in general, we can expect to see more activity in that cider segment in the near future.