Incider report

Has the advent of the small craft cider producer stymied the pitch for big producers or has it helped lift all boats? We review the established cider-makers’ place in the market as well as those up-and-coming while reviewing the present state of the cider market and what the future holds.

Last Summer’s Beer & Cider report from Mintel estimated that the cider market here would be worth €328 million in 2018 or €516 million on an all-island basis. RoI cider sales are responsible for 64% of all cider sales on the Island of Ireland and Mintel predicted that growth in cider sales would be strongest here during the 2017-2018 period at 1.2%.

The Mintel report also forecast that by 2023 sales of cider will have grown by 3.6% on an all-island basis to reach €547 million compared to 2019.

The report states, “Overall, on-trade sales in RoI are driving growth in the beer and cider categories as increased consumer confidence and improved personal finances see consumers in RoI visit pubs and bars more often compared to NI consumers who continue to struggle financially and turn to the cheaper off-trade as they look to better manage their household budgets”.


Apple cider dominates market

Apple remains the most drunk type of cider with 38% of RoI consumers having  drunk it in the last three months.

‘Any other fruit-flavoured cider’ appears to be the next favourite with 13% of consumers and pear cider follows this with 11% of consumers, according to Mintel’s June 2018 report.

Among a range of other occasions, cider drinkers are also more likely to have had these beverages while at the pub compared to any other occasions in the three months to March 2018 according to Mintel (47%) while some 43% have taken cider while relaxing at home.

Elsewhere, Kantar Worldpanel reports that 26% of all Irish adults consume cider with apple being the most popular flavour for 70% of them and pear flavour finding favour with 13%.  Other fruit-based ciders were responsible for the remaining 17%.

For its part, Euromonitor stats for 2018 put the Cider/Perry market at 67.8 million litres in 2017 (off-trade 35.36m litres/on-trade 32.43m litres), up 1.6% from 66.7 million litres in 2016. This represents a similar 1.6% growth in value from €443.8m to €450.8m (€152.5m off-trade/€298.3m on-trade).

Euromonitor puts on-trade sales of cider as accounting for 47.8% by volume but 66.2% by value.

In its full-year results to 28th February 2018, the C&C Group stated that the off-trade channel accounts for 61% of cider volumes and 35% by value.

In the on-trade however, ‘packaged’ accounts for 28% of cider volumes and for 47% by value. On-trade draught accounts for 11% of volumes and for 17% of cider sales by value.

For its own part, C&C reports that its share of the off-trade cider market rose one percentage point to 57% during this time while the Bulmers brand (including Outcider) continues to hold 85% of on-trade packaged sales, but Bulmers’ overall brand volumes were down 6% reflecting reduced draught distribution, it stated.

Although down 0.5%, the cider market fared slightly better than the LAD market as a whole which was down 1.2%.

And with competition to cider taking the shape of a hipper premium spirits market, the competition in the cider market itself is only set to increase as Diageo Ireland’s Rockshore cider joins Heineken Ireland’s Appleman’s cider and C&C’s Bulmers cider in the fray in an on-trade cider market down overall by around 3%.


Forecasting a bright future for Rockshore Apple Cider

Last year, sunscreen sales increased by 147% due to the historic rise in temperatures. The hottest Summer recorded since 1967 also affected sales in the on-trade as consumers headed to beer gardens across the country to relax and enjoy the surging temperatures.

In fact, according to Kantar, for every degree Celsius the temperature increased, there were 10,000 extra pints of cider sold per day!

While we’re hoping for an equally fantastic Summer of sunshine this year, cider-drinkers will get to sample something new with the introduction of the “well-balanced” and “less sweet-tasting” Rockshore Apple Cider to the category.

Made from the juice of freshly-pressed apples which are harvested, milled and pressed to extract the fresh apple juice, Rockshore Apple Cider is then fermented within five days. This produces a crisp, refreshing taste with a distinctive natural green apple character and an ABV of 4% resulting in a less sweet-tasting alternative to the current cider offering.

In October 2018 Rockshore Apple Cider undertook research amongst Irish cider drinkers. The reaction to the new liquid was extremely positive. Seven out of 10 people, after tasting Rockshore Apple Cider for the first time, said that it tastes better than any other cider they’d tasted before, based on their memory of other ciders. What’s more, according to the study, 90% of people stated they’d consider buying it after tasting it.

Half of cider sold through the on-trade is sold in pint bottles and so Rockshore Apple Cider is available in pint bottles as well as on draught.

With in-pub sampling and great margins available to the trade, bar managers and landlords are encouraged to contact their local Diageo rep to find out more.







Falling Apple & Craigies

There is no room for complacency at Carlow Brewing Company, one of Ireland’s most well-established and respected craft breweries and cider house of more recent times. The cider element of the brewery was a natural step, a second bite of the apple even, for Founder and Chief Executive Seamus O’Hara who continues to be driven by his passion for high quality, craft brewed beers and ciders. O’Hara’s Cider House has provided fertile ground for experimentation and play and is home to sister brands Falling Apple Irish Craft Cider and Craigies Irish Craft Cider.

Although the two ciders are premium brands, produced using 100% Irish apples and using techniques from cider-making experts and specialists on the team, they the two ciders offer different flavour profiles to cider lovers.

Craigies is slightly drier and is very often the cider of choice for chefs at high profile restaurants around the country like Charlotte Quay Restaurant & Bar and Stack A Restaurant at Urban Brewing, whereas the blend of cider apples and eating apples used to produce Falling Apple leads to a sweeter profile, perfect for the Summer festival season.

The Cider House’s latest offering, and will introduce rosé varieties of Falling Apple and Craigies, both scheduled for an early Summer release. Craft breweries in Ireland have tended to take inspiration from the US craft beer scene and if the same trend happens for cider then rosé will be a big hit this Summer.

“It’s an exciting product and almost ready to release” reports Seamus, “we’re just deciding on what colour bottle we’ll use for it at the moment. It would be a shame to hide the beautiful pink cider we’ve worked so hard to develop behind dark glass!

“The cider market is developing really quickly and that’s a blessing for our team in Bagenalstown as it means ideas and concepts are coming to fruition quite quickly, so it keeps our team creatively stimulated and our continually growing cider fan base happy.”

“We’re really satisfied that our ciders can guarantee transparency in both production and provenance and are produced without any additives, or ‘nasties’, which means both options offer consumers a cleaner, healthier, more authentic and delicious cider experience.”

The rosé isn’t the only exciting flavour coming of out O’Hara’s Cider House this Summer with a Falling Apple Dry Hopped Cider set for a release in the coming months with Seamus adding, “A dry hopped cider was a natural progression for Falling Apple; the aroma and flavour of hops is a really interesting addition to a cider and the combination is something that’s really exciting.”

Sponsorship continues to play a key role in growing the Falling Apple Irish Craft Cider brand and standout events it’s involved in this Summer include ‘Vantastival’, the award-winning campervan festival (which sees 4,500 punters descend on the grounds of Beaulieu House, Drogheda, County Louth for the June Bank Holiday Weekend) and ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ which returns to Whelan’s from 9th-11th August following an outstanding debut last year.

Craigies meanwhile is the pouring partner for all major opening parties at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, RHK, Dublin 8 and it will also be the cider of choice at the Festival of Writing and Ideas in Borris, County Carlow from 7th to the 9th June 2019.



Q&A with Carlow Brewing Company Chief Executive Seamus O’Hara


What differentiates your brands from other ciders?

We’ve two cider brands Craigies and Falling Apple, both are made at the O’Hara’s Cider House in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow. The craft process is very important. Unlike a lot of ciders on the market we don’t use sugar as an ingredient so all the sweetness in our ciders comes from the apples. We get most of our apples from Cappoquin Estate in Co Waterford and some from Boyne Valley in Drogheda. The apples are harvested in Autumn and pressed into juice. The fermentation process can then take from three weeks to three months, it depends on the ambient temperature really. What sets us apart? Taste, quality, technique, expertise, I could go on…


What are you doing to promote this to the on-trade?

At the moment the main objective is to get it out to new on-trade customers in bottle and/or keg.  We find once customers get to taste the product it builds its own momentum from there. Of course, we support it with on-premises Point Of Sale materials including striking glassware, staff training and tasting for customers.  We’re also heavily supporting the brand through attendance and pouring rights at a wide variety of arts and music events and festivals.

To be honest I’d urge publicans to try a sample of Falling Apple. When we’re at festivals and people try Falling Apple for the first time they’re amazed at how good it tastes. I think there is a slight misconception that cider needs to have lots of sugar and additives in order to appeal to someone who likes a sweet flavour profile; it’s simply not true, apples are naturally sweet and the blend we use for Falling Apple has a broad appeal. The feedback from publicans that stock it as that people still want a sweet flavour profile but they’re delighted when they’re able to get that from a cider that uses Irish apples and isn’t full of added sugar.

What’s the consumer profile for Falling Apple and for Craigies?

Falling Apple has a sweet but refreshingly crisp and clean flavour profile, so tends to have a pretty wide appeal. Consumers are becoming increasingly health conscious, reflected in the growing popularity of low alcohol and non-alcoholic beers and I think this trend has helped Falling Apple find a market with people who like sweetness in their cider but prefer that sweetness to come from apples as opposed to the cloying taste that results from unnecessary additives and sugar.

Craigies has a more traditional craft cider taste, it’s slightly drier and appeals to a slightly more mature palate. It’s particularly good as an accompaniment to food and can be found in a lot of top restaurants.




Cooneys Irish Cider , an International Award Winner

From the family behind Boyne Brewhouse, Cooneys Irish Cider has joined the market to complement the range of craft beers in the portfolio.

The Cooney family orchards in Meath and Tipperary yield some of the finest quality cider apples in Ireland. Using their own spring water and honey bees ensures that from blossom to bottle you get the finest and most refreshing Irish Apple Cider.

Cooneys Irish Cider won both ‘Best Irish Sparkling Cider’ and overall ‘Best Style’ winner at the World Cider Awards not long after launch.

The awards select the very best of internationally-recognised styles of drinks and are judged by a panel of international experts. It has also scooped a Bronze medal at this year’s Alltech Dublin Craft Cider Cup.

Sold in 500ml bottle, 400ml can and on draught, Cooneys Irish Cider is a pale golden straw colour with an aroma of fresh bittersweet cider apples. On the palate, there are layers of complexity with subtle tart apple nuances. Medium-bodied with a balanced crisp fruity finish, this cider is a serious contender.

The apple doesn’t fall far…

Join the Conversation on FaceBook and instagram – @CooneysIrishCider #CooneysIrishCider


Sheppy’s Cider

From one of the oldest premium craft cider-making families in the world and with a history that goes back more than 200 years, Master of Cider David Sheppy blends his craft skills with the very best modern technology to create this range of award-winning ciders.

Newly arrived in Ireland and fresh from winning three Gold Medals at the International Brewing & Cider Awards 2019 (aka the Oscars of Beer & Cider) this 100% pressed fermented apple juice cider is now available throughout Ireland in bottle, can and keg.




2019 International Brewing & Cider Awards Medals 

Category 1  Tannic Cider: Gold

Sheppys 200 Special Edition


Category 2 Modern Cider: Gold

Sheppy’s Classic Draught


Category 8 Low Alcohol: Gold

Sheppy’s Low Alcohol 0.5%

For the full range see

Distribution and further information contact Grand Cru Beers.






Always a golden moment with Bulmers

Bulmers kicked-off its first sponsorship of the year with a record-breaking week at The Cheltenham Festival culminating in the Bulmers Gold Cup with pouring-rights in all bars and a dedicated space, Ciderland, in the newly-established The Orchard enclosure.

The first of a four-year sponsorship with one of the most famous racing festivals in the world, Bulmers initiated a 3600 marketing campaign including on- and off-trade consumer-facing competitions such as the Win a share in a race-horse syndicate. The Original Irish Cider also launched a month-long Road to Gold campaign featuring live events in Clonmel, Dublin, London and Cheltenham and fronted by TV star Vogue Williams and ITV racing presenter Oli Bell.

Bulmers drinkers love sport but they also love music so the brand will once again capture the sounds of Summer with the award-winning Bulmers Forbidden Fruit Festival, Body and Soul in June, All Together Now in August and Bulmers Live at Leopardstown providing top class racing and music entertainment right across the Summer.

An authentic and refreshing cider, staying true to its roots has always been Bulmers’ philosophy and these are firmly embedded in the orchards of Clonmel.  This land, Ciderland, is where 17 varieties of apple are grown and harvested to create a traditional blend of Ireland’s top cider.  Ciderland embodies Bulmers world where, for more than 80 years, generations of workers have been producing Original Irish Cider.

“We’re going back to our roots in 2019 and focusing on the things that are synonymous with Bulmers through the years” said Bulmers Commercial Director David Whelan, “the iconic Dowd’s Lane Cidery vats, the orchards and all of the vibrancy and colour that embody our Irishness and brand heritage.

“This will be reflected in our marketing campaigns, some exciting new innovations in 2019 and on our new packaging which marry all of Bulmers’ important attributes of Irishness and heritage with 21st Century Ireland.”


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