Westons predicts that fruit cider will account for half the category by 2022 and it has launched Stowford Press Mixed Berries to capitalise on the opportunity. 

It is an on-trade exclusive, but it could be rolled out into the off-trade if it proves successful.

IRI and CGA data shows that far more cider is consumed in the off-trade than the on-trade, and that the take-home market is driving the growth in the category.

But the on-trade remains the best place to launch and trial innovation for the majority of BWS producers.

Commercial director Geoff Bradman told DRN: “The insight is that there has been a steady migration of consumers from the on-trade into the off-trade.

“Pubs are closing and going through a difficult time and that trend has been driving the growth in the off-trade market.

“Our business is slightly bigger in the off-trade. It’s about 50% off-trade, 45% on-trade and 5% export.

“We are introducing new products into the off-trade, like Flat Tyre and Rosie’s Pig.

“Stowford Press Mixed Berries is launching in the on-trade and then [it can] migrate into the off-trade. From a commercial perspective we are able to get more trial more quickly in the on-trade, and the risk to the business isn’t as high due to minimum runs and the costs of putting it together.

“We are doing new things in the off-trade, but anything we launch into any channel has to be the best in class, like Henry Westons, Old Rosie and Wyldwood.

“We could take value out of the brand and look at developing something for the mass market, but our values and quality focus will always lead us to strive to be best in class instead.

“We are a family business, so we have the luxury of being clear about our strategy and being definitive about what we do, rather than chasing numbers.”

That being said, Westons has grown sales by 8% in the past year (IRI and CGA) and is targeting growth of 40% within five years. “We are very confident that we will hit that target,” said Bradman.

He added that fruit cider is absolutely not a fad and it is here to stay.

Cidermaker Guy Lawrence explained that he has tried to make Stowford Press Mixed Berries less sweet and cloying than the current brands on the market.

Holly Chadwick, brand manager for Stowford Press, said: “Sales of fruit ciders are flourishing, driven by the vast number of consumers seeking out sweeter, refreshing flavours.

“25.7 million fruit pints are now drunk in the on-trade, and it’s clear to see that fruit ciders are broadening consumer interest in the wider category. By appealing to younger, female consumers who are often new to the category, fruit ciders are also driving incremental sales.

“It’s clear that there is a fantastic opportunity for the on-trade to drive greater value into the fruit cider category, with a new premium mainstream offering from the UK’s third largest draught apple cider brand.

 “Thanks to the substantial interest in fruit cider nationwide, within five years we expect it to account for just under 50% of all cider sold.”