What is cider?

In our annual review of the cider market we take a closer look at cider, its flavours and consumer trends as well as a wee bit of its history thanks to Drinks Ireland|Cider's new publication.


To mark World Cider Day last June the 3rd, Drinks Ireland|Cider produced a booklet detailing the diverse range of Irish ciders available to consumers.

Cider is the third-most-popular alcohol beverage in Ireland and the country’s blessed in having an array of cider variants in our retail and hospitality outlets. The booklet guides the consumer on flavour descriptions as well as suggesting food pairing options for each cider type.


Cider history & variety

During the 18th Century Irish cider was highly regarded for both its quality and its economic importance, so much so that in 1737 quality Irish cider was being described as the equivalent to quality wine.

Praise indeed for the humble apple but there’s more.

Today, unlike wine, cider-makers can feast their eyes on 60,000 different varieties of apple from which to choose for their cider where vintners must content themselves in working with a mere 10,000 grape varieties.

With the emphasis on health, being fermented exclusively from apples or pears, ciders and perries are by their nature free from gluten and nearly all of them can be classed ‘vegan-friendly’.


Premium cider – an underdeveloped market

Although some in the EU would consider cider to be beer’s poorer cousin, cider producers in the UK and Ireland consider the cider sector to be a relatively underdeveloped category and the premium cider sector a relatively unpopulated market, one ripe for development.

And here in Ireland, while some might consider cider-drinking to be a relatively well-developed and popular concept, nearly half of all households in the UK bought cider at some point in 2020 so there’s plenty of room for growth here.


Irish cider market

In its Irish Cider Market Report 2020, Drinks Ireland|Cider stated that volume consumption of cider fell 11.3% in 2020 compared to the previous year, giving cider a 6.9% share of the overall alcohol market, down from 7.4%.

But last year was a poor year for many beverage products so it shouldn’t be taken out of Lockdown context.

Indeed, Revenue figures for the first Quarter of 2021 show a continuing decline in volumes of 16%.

But against this cider values seem to be increasing.

Figures from NielsenIQ would tend to reflect growth in the off-trade cider market of 27% to €147 million in the year to May the 23rd 2021 while from January 2021 to May the 23rd sales were up 6% to €51.4 million.


Bulmers launches new campaign

"As pubs open their doors and welcome back visitors once again, it’s as-good-a-time as any to reflect on the virtue of patience and the art of biding your time."

As pubs open their doors and welcome back visitors once again, it’s as-good-a-time as any to reflect on the virtue of patience and the art of biding your time, something Bulmers’ new ATL campaign ‘When Time Bears Fruit’ champions, believes the cider-producer.

Launched to coincide with the reopening of pubs Bulmers’ new campaign includes digital, TV and OOH, constituting a five-fold increase in spend.

It’s also being supported in the on-trade, forming part of a major programme of support for the pub and hospitality industry by Bulmers Ireland.

Filmed and produced in Bulmers’ own orchards in Clonmel, the campaign celebrates the moment when time bears fruit, the 18-month production process in creating Bulmers Irish Cider, much mirrored by the challenging 18 months the on-trade community has faced.

In addition to the new marketing campaign, Bulmers has also refreshed its iconic pint glass. The updated glass has begun rollout across pubs throughout Ireland. The updated design is more stylised with a sleeker aesthetic, features the symbolic Bulmers vats in the grip and also embraces QR functionality.

“We’ve all had a reality check over the last while and perspective on what really matters has undoubtedly been gained,” says Karl Donnelly, Marketing Director at Bulmers Ireland, “However people’s livelihoods and businesses matter too and it’s great to see reopening progressing.”

Bulmers plans to host a glamping experience for consumers and trade in the Bulmers Orchard and also plans to support Ireland’s bee population during the Summer, “without whom we couldn’t possibly do what we do”.


Falling Apple

Falling Apple Irish Craft Cider, produced in Bagenalstown, County Carlow, has released a new range of 330ml cans to add to its range of 500ml bottles. The new additions, Apple Crush and Blushing Berry, come in stylish four-packs.

Apple Crush is a medium-sweet cider with a refreshing balance of sweet, dry and bitter flavours, while Blushing Berry is a fruity and refreshing cider with flavours of Raspberry and Elderflower.

Both ciders are blended with 100% Irish apples and use techniques from cider-making experts and specialists on the team.






Craigies Irish Craft Cider only uses Irish apples sourced from dedicated growers in counties Waterford, Tipperary, Cork and Kilkenny. The Craigies team holds the belief that Irish cider achieves its greatest complexity and expression as a blend and that each Apple should reflect its regional origins as well as its specific fruit characteristics.

Craigies’ leading brands Ballyhook Flyer and Rosé are the fruits of that philosophy.

Ballyhook Flyer is dry and elegant, possessing both fruit and savoury flavours which are prolonged on the palate by its natural freshness, while the Rosé sparkling Cider perfectly combines traditional Apple flavours with delicate fruit notes.

Craigies is often the cider of choice for chefs at high-profile restaurants around the country.



Using its own spring water and Irish honey bees the team at Cooneys Irish Cider ensures that from blossom to bottle consumers get the finest and most refreshing Irish Apple Cider.

A medium dry cider crafted With Dabinet, Michelin, Ashton Bitter, Yarlington Mill & Gilly Bittersweet Cider Apples, no artificial sweeteners, colours or flavourings are used in this naturally vegan and gluten-free cider.

With a light golden colour, a distinctive bittersweet Apple aroma and a medium dry sweetness offering a crisp fruity finish, Cooneys Irish Cider ticks all the boxes for a balanced Irish Cider.


Devils Bit

Devils Bit Mountain Cider is family-owned and Irish-made. Legend has it that in chasing Fionn Mac Cumhaill, the Devil took a bite out of a certain Tipperary mountain leading to what is now known as Devils Bit Mountain. Having its orchards at the foot of this mystical mountain adds a certain something to Devils Bit.

Crafted with apples from its own orchards and pressed in the Devils Bit Cidery in Tipperary the Master Cider Makers combine the age-old techniques of cider-making with the traditional cider Apple to create this beverage.


Kopparberg wants consumers to ‘Kopp On’

Ireland’s #1 fruit cider brand Kopparberg has driven value to the Cider category, up 26% MAT vs Total Category up 6%. The independent fruit cider giant now plays across multiple categories within alcohol including Cider, Spirits & RTDs.

This Summer Kopparberg embraces its Swedish heritage, introducing ‘Swedish Tastes That Translate’, an eye-catching campaign that’s sure to leave consumers tongue-tied.

Encouraging people to enjoy a refreshing fruit cider, Kopparberg’s new campaign has cheekily taken some Irish-isms and added a dash of Scandi-flavour, with the brand going as far as to launch its very own dictionary featuring a selection of Swedish-Irish fused phrases to have some fun with including:

  • ‘Kopp On’ – knowing there’s only one cider to order
  • ‘Eye-Scandi’ – very attractive-looking glass of cider
  • ‘Scandilous’ – buying anything other than a Kopparberg

Kopparberg’s array of fruit flavours ranges from the classic Strawberry & Lime to Mixed Fruits and the tropical flavours of Passionfruit.

Kopparberg is distributed by Richmond Marketing.

For more information, visit @KopparbergIreland.



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