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    Crafted apple cider to propel cider market in convenience channel

    The success of crafted apple ciders will continue to set the pace of growth in the UK’s £1.1 billion off trade cider market this year, with focused ranging crucial for convenience retailers looking to capitalise on demand.

    That’s just one of the verdicts from Westons Cider’s ninth annual Cider Report as it once again reveals what will be hot – and what will not – in the world of cider over the coming year.

    The cider maker’s comprehensive annual review – based on a deep dive into the latest industry data and trends – shows that the category is firmly back to its pre-pandemic norms, with the off trade making up 38 per cent of value sales and 63 per cent of volume. The slight increase in value share (up from 37 per cent in 20221) can be attributed to wider drinking trends, as well as price increases, with shoppers looking to drink less but better; a movement seen across other categories, including premium long alcoholic drinks (LADs), with stouts as well as world and craft beer all continuing to perform strongly.

    And with convenience retailers making up 50 per cent of the total off trade category, the good news is that there is further room to grow to take advantage of consumers’ changing tastes.

    Crafted cider is going from strength to strength, outperforming the category as a whole. While total cider continues to grow (+2.8 per cent ), the crafted sector is outpacing the market (+12.2 per cent ). As well as growing more quickly than the previous year, its share has increased in total grocery from 19.4 per cent to 21.2 per cent – the biggest share gain in the sector – adding £25.8 million to the category as a whole.

    “While crafted cider is undoubtedly leading the charge across the off trade and is performing well in convenience retailers, there is compelling room for growth in this channel,” explains Tim Williams, Insight and Innovation Manager for Westons Cider.

    “Crafted makes up over a fifth of value sales in total off trade, but this is markedly lower in the convenience channel, at 18 per cent . Distribution is also lower, at 94.5 per cent , compared with 98.3 per cent in the total market, so there’s clearly room for growth, particularly with sales of crafted cider up +5.8 per cent in convenience and commanding over £1.50 per litre more than the total category.

    “Crafted ciders are also seen to offer value for money – allowing shoppers to access brands which deliver quality at an affordable price. Within cider, this means stocking products which have a deep-rooted sense of heritage, provenance and an authentic nature. Crafted apple cider delivers in spades and consumers are prepared to trade up.

    “Prioritising facings for bestselling crafted apple ciders ensures that key products are less likely to go out of stock and we know that one of the biggest limiters on cider sales is empty shelves and fridges.”

    Apple cider continues to make gains within the sector, now making up 64.1 per cent of market value, up 5.6 per cent YOY, while flavoured cider is down -2 per cent taking its share to 31.5 per cent . One to watch throughout 2024 is pear cider and perry; currently making up 4.4 per cent of the market, several new pear launches at the end of 2023 and early 2024 suggest the sub-sector is ripe for premiumisation. Growth is expected to be led by more premium products – in line with the cider category as a whole – rather than the wine-style products which have dominated in recent years.

    Making the most of big occasions and cider moments is a simple and effective way to capitalise on the category. Execute the basics well, ensure your ranging complements your consumer base, and maintain stock levels of your best-selling ciders.

    Cider and sport are another match made in heaven, with many of the year’s biggest cider selling days linked to sport. And the great news is that this year – as well as the stalwart calendar events such as the FA Cup Final and Grand National, which regularly show up in the top 10 cider occasions – we also have the Euros to look forward to, with England and Scotland already qualified, and Wales still in the mix. Coupled with summer, the tournament runs from mid-June to mid-July and promises to be a real boon for cider sales. Don’t forget the Olympics, either!

    The report states, “Seasonality and temperature always come into play, so make sure you’re stocked up for the moment the temperature gauge rises, for there’s no greater correlation between cider and sales than a hot spell or sunny Bank Holiday. And with more shoppers in the off trade purchasing ahead of social occasions (up 1.3 share points2), remember to keep multipacks in mind.

    “Don’t forget Christmas and new year are also key occasions for selling cider, especially the good stuff as drinkers look to treat themselves and as they stock up for entertaining.

    “Finally, low and no continues its quiet ascent. Shoppers are becoming increasingly interested in moderating, with the total no and low alcohol category up £23.8 million (+3.2 per cent ). Within cider, growth of 8.4 per cent has taken the total value up £2.4 million, with new shoppers driving the category – not a group to be overlooked!”

    “Despite a challenging economic backdrop, it’s exciting to see that the trend towards premium products continues to drive category growth, allowing the very best of British ciders to flourish,” adds Sally McKinnon, Head of Marketing at Westons Cider. “With a summer of sport and – hopefully – numerous sunny social occasions, retailers can keep things simple, showcasing customer favourites on shelf for another strong year of cider sales.”

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