Reducing reliance on UK & Irish ciders seen as challenge for international ciders
Market insights provider IWSR expects international cider volumes to grow at a Category Annual Growth Rate of 2% between 2021 and 2026, with cider volumes expected to surpass 2019 levels in 2023.
However, the international cider category faces two main challenges in the years ahead.
“One is to dilute its reliance on the UK and Ireland and the other is to counter the threat from the Ready To Drink market with which it competes for many drinking occasions and drinkers,” states IWSR.
Both the UK and Irish cider markets look to be coming out of boom periods and IWSR’s data suggest that both countries may have seen cider peak in the mid-term.
“Achieving growth is likely to become difficult in these core markets – which account for a third of global cider sales. Other regions do offer opportunities for the category and cider volumes grew over 50% in Africa in 2021. Brand owners such as Heineken have been investing in cider’s biggest African market – South Africa – where there’s been an existing tradition of cider-drinking.
“Regional expansion at a domestic level was what helped cider in the UK emerge from a trough period a little more than 15 years ago. At the time, cider distribution continued to be biased towards the West Country and a small pocket in the Northeast of England where they enjoyed sweet ciders. This was to change with the import of the ‘over ice’ concept from Ireland, which catapulted cider into a national drink versus a regional one.
“It was the arrival in the mid-nineties of RTD products in the UK that led to a steep decline in cider consumption, driven primarily by younger LDA drinkers switching from cider to the RTD category.”
The buoyant RTD category is undoubtedly constraining the cider category today, believes IWSR.
“This can be seen in what some might consider a sleeping cider giant, the US. Cider in the US was going well, with sales more than trebling between 2012 and 2015. The green shoots of a craft cider movement became evident before the rapid rise of RTDs stunted the development of the category.
“In the UK, cider brand-owners competed with the rise in RTDs by innovating with new flavour ranges – building on what pioneer Kopparberg achieved after it arrived in 2003. The rapid development of the fruit cider segment blurred the line between RTD and cider. Cider also became more gender-neutral and could be marketed as a ‘natural’ drink with a broad flavour appeal. Democratising cider helped brand-owners to reach new audiences and win back existing ones from the RTD category.”
Cider brands in the US are also leveraging the Hard Seltzer trend by releasing Seltzers with a cider base, reports IWSR.
“All the recent cider innovation points to a category that is benefitting from consumer interest in RTDs,” states the report, “With an opportunity to leverage its core flavour base with the additional unique attributes that appeal to today’s consumer, the runway for cider growth could be long.”