Cider update: What retailers need to know for summer 2019

With Westons and Thatchers, two of the UK’s biggest cider makers, hosting media briefings recently, betterRetailing takes a look at some of the major issues raised and lessons learnt about the cider industry.

With Westons and Thatchers, two of the UK’s biggest cider makers, hosting media briefings recently, Better Retailing takes a look at some of the major issues raised, and lessons learnt about the cider industry.

Premium cider is on the up

Retailers looking to boost cider sales should focus on premium lines, says Westons in its recently published annual report. According to the company’s figures, value of sales of craft and premium cider grew by 15.1% and 2.4% respectively over the past year.

Meanwhile, Thatchers sales director Chris Milton told Better Retailing: “If you pick the right premium brands you can make more money. Cider overtrades in convenience because when the sun comes out it’s a chilled four pack from their local store shoppers go for.”

For convenience stores, balance is the key

“In convenience it’s a delicate balance between quality and quantity. As a retailer you can charge a premium for quality products and sensibly price price-marked four-packs,” says Milton. “Pubs promote craft and experimentation but there are some fantastic examples of independents doing the same, such as Dykes in Dorset and MJs in Greater Manchester.”

Minimum unit pricing is having an effect, especially in Scotland

According to the Westons report, the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP) has had an effect on cider demand since its launch in Scotland in May 2018. Value white and amber cider volumes fell by more than 70% and 50% respectively. East Lothian shop owner Ferhan Ashiq told BBC Radio Scotland that those customers were switching to lager, while Thatchers insist they are experiencing double-digit growth in the region.

Value growth is high, but household penetration is low

At 5.5% value, and 2.6% volume growth, value growth for cider is ahead of spirits, wine and beer. However, the household penetration is only 48% compared to 68.3% for wine, Thatchers insight manager Alicia Petchey explains. This presents an opportunity for the category if cider can reach a similar level of shoppers.  

Fruit cider is a key growth area, but apple remains the biggest

According to Thatchers, 33.5% of shoppers buy just apple cider, while 39.4% just buy fruit, showing that both segments can grow without cannibalising sales of the other. Fruit cider will rise to 48% of sales by 2023, but for now, apple cider makes up two-thirds of cider sales.

Find out with Better Retailing how to maxamise your premium alcohol sales 


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