Magners is gearing up to take on Strongbow with the launch of a rival Dark Fruit variant for the off-trade.

The Irish cider brand has added the 4% abv Magners Dark Fruit to its portfolio. The variant, which is described as “offering the taste of jammy berries and sharp blackcurrants”, is available to buy now from convenience retailers and Costco in 4x44cl and 10x44cl can packs. The newcomer will be available from Asda stores and online nationwide from January 2018.

Janette Murray, marketing manager, said: “After a successful launch in the Scottish on-trade, we are delighted to now be able to offer Magners Dark Fruit to take home. The new product has been really well received and the vibrant packaging is grabbing the attention of curious cider consumers.

“Magners has enjoyed category growth over the past year, and we are confident the roll out of Dark Fruit will instill our place within the category, both with new and loyal consumers.”

Rival brand Strongbow Dark Fruit is often hailed as one of the stars of the fruit cider, and full off-trade cider, categories. The brand has experienced growth year-on-year since its launch in 2013, and it is now the second biggest off-trade cider brand (after the Strongbow parent brand), with 31.8% growth in value recorded in the year to May 6, according to Nielsen.

Berry and dark fruit flavours have seen strong growth in general in the off-trade; Westons reports of success for its rhubarb & damson canned ciders under its Rosie’s Pig brand, while Magners’ owner C&C Brands launched Blackthorn Dark Fruit in 2016. Molsen Coors brought out Carling Black Fruits at the start of this year and Brothers Cider introduced a Mixed Berry flavour in 2016.