Perceptions of premium cider

The latest research from GlobalData/Canadean suggests that one of the most important trends in the West European cider market is that of 'premiumisation' which has led to consumers spending more on ‘quality’ cider at the expense of 'mainstream' brands. So how's the Irish cider market reflecting this, bearing in mind the healthy demand that persists for mainstream brands in the Irish on- and off-trades?

Premium cider brands in West Europe recorded a compound annual growth rate of almost 8% between 2009 and 2015, far exceeding competing price segment categories, all of which posted declines, claims consumer insight firm GlobalData (formerly Canadean).

According to the company’s research one of the most important trends currently being recorded in the West European cider market is the premiumisation trend which has led to consumers spending more on quality cider at the expense of discount and mainstream brands.

Premium brands – those having a price index of 115%-149% when using the leading mainstream brand as the benchmark – have witnessed positive results from this.

However superpremium brands – those priced at a 150% price index and above on the leading brand – have not yet benefited from this trend, with consumers still exhibiting some caution with their spend, states GlobalData.

This impressive growth in the premium category was driven by strong performances in Spain (up 3%) and France (up 15%), as well as huge growth in the Republic of Ireland (up 107%), helping to offset the 1% decline in the largest market by volume, the UK, reports GlobalData.

Growth in Spain, the second largest premium cider market by volume, was a consequence of the increased demand for imported cider and ‘natural’ cider, generally associated with premium and superpremium price points. Natural cider in particular benefited from its popularity with young adult consumers who find the concept of filtered cider with no added sugar appealing.

France’s market was largely in line with the rest of the continent, with volumes declining overall and premium offerings the sole growth point. Consumers in France are increasingly switching their cider drinking habits to quality over quantity, driving value growth.

Of Ireland, GlobalData reports, “The exceptional gains witnessed in the Republic of Ireland market for premium brands can be partly attributed to the recovering economy that has restored consumer confidence. Ireland was the fastest-growing economy in West Europe in 2015 and in a traditional cider-drinking market, this proved fruitful for premium brands.

“Heineken also introduced its Orchard Thieves brand in 2015. After vigorous taste-panel testing with Irish consumers, it has been designed specifically for the Irish palate and entered the market with a high price point that more than doubled the volumes in the premium price segment.”

GlobalData adds that premium cider is likely to have continued its consistent growth pattern in West Europe in 2016 due to rising consumer interest and willingness to purchase higher-priced and quality ciders.

“Brewers quick to jump on this trend, as Heineken has been in the Republic of Ireland, could capitalise on this shift in consumer buying behaviour by focusing on development of more unique and premium cider offerings”.

It’s estimated that one in five adults in Ireland drinks cider, which represents nearly 7% of the total alcohol market. And the good news is that the cider category returned to growth of 6.5% following a 3.3% decline in 2015.

According to figures from the Revenue Commissioners, in 2015 it was responsible for €54 million in excise receipts and provisional figures from the Revenue Commissioners indicate receipts of over €59 million for 2016.

But has a schism developed between the most well-known and ‘premium’ brands in terms of sales development?


Premium perceptions

Many would now argue that cider continues to sell in higher quantities at the premium end of the market while others claim that the premium cider market is approaching its zenith.

But while the debate continues, ‘craft’ brands are not sitting idly by. Carlow Brewing Company’s takeover of Craigie’s Cider plant and product demonstrates a growing appetite among the craft players to take a greater bite of the cider market.

It’s almost axiomatic though that cider – whatever its consumer perception in terms of premium – performs well if the weather is good – and at major sports events if factored in.


Cider’s performance

Cider in Ireland continued to grow its share of the Long Alcohol Drinks market as a generation of younger drinkers entered the category according to C&C in its pre-close trading update last month of its Bulmers brand here.

“Nevertheless, Bulmers’ brand growth slowed slightly in the second half of the year and while the brand ceded share of cider in draught the volume loss was offset by growth in pint bottle and small pack,” stated the company.

Preliminary results for FY17 will be announced on 17th May when Bulmers cider is expected to post a 3% growth in volume in the year to the end of February 2017, a considerable turnabout on its 2015 performance of a 13% decline.

“The performance of cider was buoyed not only by better weather but through new product development helping to expand the category and bring in new millennial consumers,” believes C&C.

Tourism too plays its part in this. As cider-drinking is traditional there too, UK visitors tend to drink more cider than other overseas visitors. So good Summer and Autumn figures for cider sales may be attributed to factors such as this.

On the other hand a CGA BrandTrack survey last July revealed that 77% of UK consumers drink cider throughout the year as opposed to the 34% who only drink cider when the weather is good.

“When in a beer garden or outdoors, cider is more appealing to me,” concurred 66% of consumers while 63% thought that, “When it is warm, cider is a more fashionable choice of drink”.

A subsequent CGA BrandTrack survey last February found 24% of GB consumers drink cider when out. Again when asked which type they choose to drink, 60% went for mainstream cider, 52% for premium and 30% for craft.

And 48% of GB cider-drinkers state “the availability of a favourite brand” as influential in the decision to drink the category out-of-home.

Every new player to the cider market brings new consumers to the category too.

One of the major new players, Heineken Ireland, has successfully lengthened its strides into the cider market with its Orchard Thieves brand which now enjoys a 10.3% share of the cider market, driving Heineken Ireland’s cider portfolio to an overall share of 11.2%. This puts it second in contention to the traditional market leader Bulmers which has considerably more share of the Irish cider market at 86% of on-trade cider sales and 47% of off-trade sales.


Packaged cider predominates

In C&C’s H1 report to 31st August 2016, packaged product accounted for 71% of the total on-trade cider market (MAT to June ’16). Indeed, draught cider only held 11% of the total cider category by channel.

Perhaps the popularity of packaged goes some way towards illuminating Diageo Ireland’s finding that 54% of cider-drinkers are female.

However Heineken Ireland believes that the Irish cider drinker profile is slightly skewed towards males, with 60% being men. Heineken Ireland’s consumer profiling has found that over half of cider drinkers are aged 35+ and this is also the fastest consumer growth area for cider.

35+age cider-drinkers also account for the greatest number of serves per week, slightly above the 18-24s demographic, followed by 25-34s.

The biggest hotspot for cider drinkers is Munster, accounting for over one third of cider drinkers, followed by Dublin (accounting for one fifth) – the same amount as the rest of Leinster, followed by the West of the country.

Channel consumption is relatively well-balanced, with the off-trade comprising a 52% volume share and also accounting for slightly higher serves per user per week.



Orchard Thieves continues to grow in Ireland’s flourishing cider category


Orchard Thieves, the refreshingly crisp cider that delivers an instant apple hit, continues to grow and strengthen its position as the number two cider in Ireland. The premium mainstream cider is now the fastest-growing cider in the Irish market according to Nielsen MAT to February 2017. This is in part due to the brand positioning itself with bold, innovative communications that stray from the traditional approach cider brands have taken in the past.

The brand’s bold, urban attitude has challenged the conventions of the cider category. Orchard Thieves has proven that it understands Irish consumers as it continues to connect with them in ways that are relevant to them, states the company.

Orchard Thieves has grown by 124% since last year and is on track to deliver double digit growth for 2017.

It will continue to reinvigorate the cider category with its unique experiences and bold outlook in 2017 and will build on recent innovative campaigns such as ‘Thieve a Pint’, ‘The Bold Hour’, ‘Sneaky Pints’ and ‘The Bold mOTel’.

Follow Orchard Thieves on Twitter & Facebook:

#BeBold | |@OrchardThieves



Longways logolow

LongWays Cider introduces two new flavours to the market following the success of LongWays Tipperary Cider, its medium dry offering which launched in November 2014.

A deep golden, bright full-bodied cider was the first to be produced from its own apples grown at its 26-acre orchard overlooking the banks of the River Suir in County Tipperary.

LongWays, owned by producer James O’Donoghue, aims to provide the female market with a delicate pink-coloured apple cider infused with wild elderflower picked from the laneways around Carrick-on-Suir.

Subtle tannins and lighter apple notes make up the taste of LongWays Sweet Katy cider, the last addition to the trio. LongWays has a sub-40s mixed gender age group in mind as its target market.

These latest additions arrive just in time for the long Summer days, offering the flexibility of being enjoyed outdoors but also a taste to be savoured long after the sun’s gone down.

LongWays company’s national distributor is Rye River for nationwide accounts and LongWays Cider Co has local regional suppliers for local needs in your area; please contact or call on 086 0434774 for sales.


For more information visit our website and   Twitter Longways Cider@Longwayscider












Since launching with Richmond Marketing in 2006, Kopparberg has experienced over 10 years of consecutive growth and innovation in the Irish market. The Swedish brewery, tucked away in the small town of Kopparberg, remains independent and is today owned by the Bronsman family.

The Kopparberg Cider range now focuses on five foundation variants: Strawberry & Lime, Mixed Fruit and Pear with newer flavours Elderflower & Lime and Raspberry.

Kopparberg Raspberry 500ml




These newer variants are lighter in colour and drier in style, offering something exciting and different to premium fruit cider drinkers, states the company. Both have seen promising sales increases versus 2015, with Elderflower & Lime up 36% and Raspberry in strong growth of 108%.

Now with 75% market share in the on-trade, Kopparberg’s rate of sale is more than double that of the next competitor and sells at a higher average price per bottle, as per Nielsen data (December 2016).


In 2017 Kopparberg will continue to invest in premium visibility, profit-driving promotions, Through-The-Line marketing and growing its sales force. The brand will be serving its refreshing fruit cider at sponsored events such as those curated by Sofar Sounds and at the music & arts festival ‘Bare in the Woods’ taking place this June in Portarlington, County Laois. | @KopparbergIreland







C&C launches Outcider – with attitude

C&C Gleeson has launched ‘Outcider’, a new cider, sweeter than its older and more traditional big brother Bulmers. From Clonmel, Outcider is now available on-draught with an ABV of 4.5%.

“This new cider is going to appeal to a whole new audience that likes a certain sweetness to their drink and is looking for something new,” believes Outcider’s Marketing Director Belinda Kelly.

Outcider’s artwork has been designed by contemporary muralist and Dublin graffiti artist James Earley, inspired by the contrasting environments of Dublin’s Docklands – a landscape that blends man-made and natural elements.

“I always think that the Docklands area is Dublin’s outsider,” he says, “They don’t chime with the rest of the capital’s landscape; they’re raw and real and that was all I needed as my starting point.”

New brands have to connect with people like never before, believes Belinda, adding, “Using street art brings the brand to life and allows us to create an even deeper connection with those who demand more from a brand.”

Distinguished by its multi-coloured packing of blue, pink, yellow and red against a clean white backdrop Outcider’s only available in Ireland.

Belinda summarises, “Whilst Bulmers is still number one, there’s plenty of opportunity for a new Irish cider of the same great quality but that offers a different taste experience. Product innovation has always been essential to the evolution of our cider portfolio. It helps keep the market alive and continuously brings something new to consumers such as lower calorie or fruit-flavoured ciders”.

The launch is being supported by a high-profile marketing campaign.

James Early and Outcider’s Belinda Kelly with a sample of the new canned artwork.

James Early and Outcider’s Belinda Kelly with a sample of the new canned artwork.















Ireland’s Number One has just got to be Irish


It’s only fitting that Ireland’s number one cider is Irish. Bulmers Irish cider has been central to the evolution of the cider category in Ireland and its premium positioning in the market. But Bulmers has now revolutionised the brand and so gone are all references to time and time-honoured traditions that served the brand so well in the past.

Bulmers Original has a new look and new attitude and now sports a suit of copper inspired by the warm tones of the liquid colour of the cider, the skin of a ripe apple and the industrial equipment used in the cider-making process.

A multi-million €uro promotion will see a dynamic new TV, radio and Out Of Home campaign with digital advertising, experiential marketing and PR. Once again, Bulmers will have a prominent presence at all the best music festivals across the Summer including Forbidden Fruit and Body&Soul.

Bulmers is making a significant commitment to its customers with a high-profile trade programme that includes strong on- and off-trade activations, visibility and promotions that will ensure real stand out.  All trade activity has been designed to support customers achieve increased sales levels as the cider category in Ireland continues to outperform the market.

“Everything about the look, feel and attitude of Bulmers has changed with the exception of two things; the name and the taste,” said Belinda Kelly, Marketing Director for Bulmers, who explained that it was time for a change to copper-fasten the brand’s relevance to audiences who want to connect with the brands they love.

“Bulmers has always been 100% Irish and made from Irish apples.”

The new TV ad went live on St Patrick’s Day.

“Everything about the look, feel and attitude of Bulmers has changed with the exception of two things; the name and the taste,” said Belinda Kelly, Marketing Director for Bulmers,

“Everything about the look, feel and attitude of Bulmers has changed with the exception of two things; the name and the taste,” said Belinda Kelly, Marketing Director for Bulmers,

Innovation remains at the heart of Bulmers’ operations in Ireland and the brand holds the number one slot in the cider category with an 86% share of the on-trade and 47% of the off-trade markets.

Bulmers (and just-launched Outcider, see above) are produced and distributed by C&C Gleeson, one of the country’s leading manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers to the Irish drinks industry.







Devils Bit’s new packaging

Award-winning Devil’s Bit Mountain Cider has unveiled new packaging across its range to coincide with the brand’s 21st anniversary this year.

From the heart of County Tipperary, it’s made using traditional methods handed down over the generations but with no artificial sweeteners, colours or added flavouring.

Irish-grown apples from the Cooney family orchards in Tipperary and Meath are used in the production of Devil’s Bit Mountain Cider, left to ferment for eight weeks then matured for several months before chilling, filtering, carbonating and packaging.

The vibrant new amber and black packaging features an illustration of the legendary Devils Bit Mountain and the tagline ‘Refreshing To The Core’.

Devils Bit has won a number of awards including Blas na hEireann Silver 2014, Great Taste Awards Gold 2013, British Bottlers Institute Gold medals and more recently two awards from the New York International Beer Competition 2016 including Best Irish Cider Producer and a Silver Medal Winner in the cider category.

Devils Bit Mountain Cider is produced by Adams Cider Company Ltd, owned and operated by the Cooney family who’ve a long tradition in the Irish drinks industry.




Mac Ivors scoops three Golds

Mac Ivors Cider scooped three gold medals in the International Cider and Brewing Awards in March. It also launched its Traditional Dry Cider in France for St Patrick’s Day.

Mac Ivors is making its mark elsewhere too – in Italy, with Canada and America hot on its heels, reports the company.

Traditional Dry, Medium and Plum and Ginger are produced in County Armagh and in a few weeks’ time, cider-maker Greg MacNeice travels to London’s Guildhall to discover if Mac Ivors is one of 10 overall Championship winners in the International Cider and Brewing Awards – an accolade Greg picked up in 2015.

Next to be launched will be the 330ml bottles of Mac Ivors Cider Co Vintage Reserve (5%ABV), launching just before Summer, an ideal food pairing cider for diners.

Also making its way around the country is White Hag’s Silver Branch Apple Sour – a whacky, weird and mental sour ale – a collaboration between Mac Ivors and White Hag Brewery in County Sligo.

In 2016 Mac Ivors Cider Co was awarded a Silver in Blas na hEireann for Traditional Dry and Plum and Ginger ciders. It was voted Best Artisan Producer in Armagh, Joint-Best in Ulster and Joint-Best in Ireland. It also picked up Great Taste Awards for Traditional Dry and Medium ciders and was awarded a silver medal at the Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards.



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