Fruit shoots: what's next for fruit cider?

Sales flagging? Struggling to attract younger drinkers? Looking for a magic cure-all to revive your brand? We’ve got the answer: just add fruit.

Fruit cider sales are going from strength to strength. They soared 26% to £274 million in the year to January 31, according to Nielsen, while apple and pear cider sales slumped.

And why is this market doing so well? It’s all down to innovation. Ever since Magners reinvented the cider market with its revolutionary over-ice serve a decade ago, cider fans have been embracing novelty like never before.

So what’s next for fruit cider? What is the next big thing, that will spur the category on to soar to ever higher heights? These are our top tips.

1. Ice

No, we’re not talking about a Magners-style over-ice serve here, we’re talking about actual cider slushies. Last month Kopparberg launched what it said was the world’s first frozen cider in a pouch, in Strawberry & Lime and Elderflower & Lime flavours, entering a spirits- dominated £15 million frozen pouch category that it believes can grow to £30 million in the next two years. Marketing head Rob Calder says: “Consumers are becoming tired of the flavour conveyor belt – it is clear that innovation is key to driving further growth in the category. That is why we have brought Kopparberg Frozen Fruit Cider to the market.”

2. Cans

Low-cost, easy to transport and impermeable to light, cans are seeing a resurgence in the beer market, where craft producers are reclaiming them as a vessel for quality brews – and cider has been quick to follow. Canned cider volumes grew 6% in the past year, according to Nielsen. Swedish cider brand Älska has released its popular Nordic Berries and Strawberry & Lime flavours in four-packs of 33cl cans. Kingstone Press is getting in on the act too, with new Wild Berry and Mixed Berry flavours being released in can as well as PET.

3. Craft Craft beer is so popular that everyone wants to get into it these days – including massive producers like SAB Miller, which last month bought Greenwich’s Meantime Brewery. And with craft cider similarly on the rise, producers predict that small players will begin to wrest control of fruit cider away from the major companies. Sarah Edmunds, marketing manager for Hogan’s Cider, says: “Growth will mirror what has happened in the apple cider segment. While the more commercial cider producers will continue to develop weird and wonderful flavours, the craft sector will put their own interpretation on this, focusing on local, English, seasonal fruits and flavours such as elderflower.”

4. Berry flavours

Berry flavours have been driving fruit cider for some time now, and Aston Manor sales and marketing director Glen Friel believes there’s plenty of mileage left in the trend. He says: “Red berry flavours, like wild berry, raspberry and strawberry, are currently driving the sales growth of flavoured cider.” Kingstone Press has Wild Berry and Mixed Berry flavours in cans and 50cl PET bottles.

Debs Carter, marketing director for alcohol at SHS Drinks, says: “The sector is unlikely to be dominated by one particular flavour in the way that pear took the market by storm a couple of years ago. Consumers are looking for more variety and choice and their interest is being fuelled by unusual flavour combinations. Strawberry and lime and an assortment of different berry flavours are proving to be quite popular at the moment. This has given rise to the creation of a new sub-category designated as other flavours, which includes lines such as Bulmer’s Five Fruit Harvest containing a blend of different fruits, and we have seen a sudden sales surge in this sector in recent weeks.”

Johan Torell, founder and managing director of Älska owner The Swedish Cider Company, says: “New amazing flavours come along all the time, but I believe that the one who invents the next Strawberry & Lime will make the cider sales soar for real.”

5. Spiders

With a proven track record in beer and an awesome conflation, spirit ciders could well be the next thing – and with Diageo’s beloved Pimm’s brand joining the market their profile is on the rise. Pimm’s Cider Cup “will revolutionise cider”, according to Diageo. “Pimm’s will take cider to the next level, infusing it with the classic spirit and opening a potential sales opportunity of over £14 million across total trade,” the company promises. It is also investing £1.1 million in marketing the brand. Heineken has released spider range Blind Pig in the on-trade, with flavours including Bourbon & Blueberry, Rum & Poached Pear and Whiskey, Honey & Apple, and is planning an off-trade roll-out.

Related articles: