It may be unsurprising that cider’s appeal is wider than ever before and the category is moving faster than any other in the drink sector. Playing a massive part in driving sales in the on-trade, the choice of cider available now is bewilderingly varied. From mainstream apple ciders to the huge uplift in fruit ranges and the increasingly popular premium and craft ciders, keeping up with trends is a challenge.
Cider made a huge contribution to the on-trade overall last year with the equivalent of 10 million more pints of cider sold than previously – an increase of £516 million sales value in total. Volume sales for draught cider are up by 5.5%, whereas fruit cider has enjoyed volume sales growth of 14.2%. Packaged Cider sales are down by 4.1%, but there is potential for improvement here.
Strong sales in cider are traditionally driven by good weather and sports events, so you’d expect sales to have suffered after this summer’s washout; however, strong sales are being maintained throughout the year. Although the craft and fruit brands are driving the growth of cider, there is still a place in the taps or in the fridge for mainstream brands, and it is predicted by industry experts that the category could be worth over £3.5 billion in 2021.
With more than half a million pints served every day, mainstream apple cider brands like Strongbow, Weston’s and Somersby account for over 66% of all draft cider sales and should be the first cider on tap. However, like spirits and beer, it’s important to feature premium ranges on the bar or as packaged ranges in the fridge. Premium cider is modern, craft-led and satisfies drinkers looking to treat themselves, delivering around 20p additional revenue per pint. Likewise, with the rise in popularity of the “fruities”, we could be seeing more of these on tap, too, with these sweeter products likely to make up half the market within 5 years.
So, how can venue managers promote the packaged varieties alongside the popular drafts? One way for certain is to realign it as an autumnal drink. As the nights are drawing in, many venues will be introducing warmer drinks to their menus. Mulled cider is a popular addition as a premium serve, or as part of a winter cocktail list. This could take advantage of the premiumisation trend amongst the new breed of millennial fruit cider drinkers, 67% of whom are young women.
Bottled ciders could be a great addition to bar food, too. It is a versatile drink which comes in a number of varieties: fruity blends, still, sparkling, tannic, acidic, dry, sweet, and ultra-sweet. Change tack a little – remove the pint glass and serve it in a more refined wine glass.
To help you decide what to stock, we’ve uncovered some great foodie matches. Bangers & Mash pairs well with medium dry ciders like Hawkes Urban Orchard from Brewdog. Fish & Chips pairs with a dry cider, such as Hertfordshire-based Henney’s Dry, and spicy curries match well with fruit ciders like Rekorderlig Mango & Raspberry. Dry ciders are also a great match for tangy cheddars and sweets are perfect with the earthy blue cheeses.
Suggesting a cider match for food in a pub gives a unique point of difference and can help to increase sales, especially from the packaged range, where bars can afford to be more niche in their choices.
So, to recap, here are some useful ideas to maximise your flow of cider!
- Make sure the first cider tap is a mainstream apple cider. This accounts for 66% of all draft sales. By all means, have a second pump with Angry Orchard or a fruity label.
- Avoid removing mainstream brands – you’ll lose loyal drinkers and sales. Stock favourites, such as Strongbow, which is worth its weight in gold.
- Take advantage of demand for fruity flavours by stocking the right range of mainstream and premium flavoured ciders like Strongbow Dark Fruit, Kopparberg and Old Mout.
Don’t forget packaged cider! 30% of cider sales are packaged and cider drinkers are brand loyal, so it’s key to have a varied range. Premium flavoured cider accounts for 60% of all packaged cider and delivers a wide variety of flavour choices across the board.