Cider has a “clear opportunity” to introduce more shoppers into the category and there is room for both apple and fruit cider to grow in tandem, according to Thatchers Cider.

The Somerset producer said cider is outperforming other alcohol categories and is showing the most room for future growth.

In the off-trade value is growing ahead of volume (5.5% and 2.6% respectively), showing that premiumisation is an important aspect of the category.

Alicia Petchley, insights manager, said: “Cider still has a clear opportunity to drive growth. Looking at beer, in that category there’s around five million additional shoppers over cider. As a sector we have the most room to grow and scope to introduce more shoppers into the category.

“As the category gains traction outside of its traditional South West heartland we have seen people move towards different taste profiles for cider. Fruit ciders have helped fill this demand, but it is important to remember that there’s an important role for the taste diversity that apple ciders can deliver through innovative cidermaking, from dry through to medium and sweet.”

The company said two of its brands – Thatchers Gold and Thatchers Haze – are already driving market growth, particularly in draught format. In the off-trade Thacthers is showing double-digit volume and value growth across all regions. Thatchers Gold is the number two canned apple cider in value terms and Haze is the number one cloudy cider.

Also this year, the producer is introducing Thatchers Rose, made from rosy-red dessert apples to produce a pink cider with no additional added fruit flavours.

It also plans to introduce a new media campaign in 2019 for Thatchers Haze, as well as tripling the number of events it will be attending this year, as part of its investment in the growth of the cider category. Haze will be on TV with two new adverts for the first time while the overall company will be represented at cricket matches this year as a result of its Official Cider status at the ICC Cricket World Cup. 

Thatchers also plans to plant 13 acres of new orchard this year – more than 5,000 new trees – taking its total to more than 500 acres.

As part of this the producer is also establishing its 100 Tree Trial, which is a trial of more than 40 acres of apples trees made up of varieties that haven’t been used in its cidermaking before.

The company said: “These are varieties that have either done well in the Exhibition Orchard or have a reputation for producing excellent cider. We will be monitoring how well they grow.”

Thatchers’ Exhibition Orchard is home to 458 different varieties of apple. All 458 varieties have been blended into its Cider Barn 458 cider.