Two people holding glasses of Stowford Press with a table of food

Cider market buoyant

The latest Westons Category Report takes a deep dive into the cider market and identifies several key trends that are affecting the on-trade.


Key Trends

The Westons Cider Report 2023 identified some key trends taking place in the on-trade cider market:

• Consumer behaviour is changing, with Thursdays and Sundays becoming more important and occasions becoming more casual and lower tempo.
• Quality and value for money remain critical as pockets continue to be squeezed.
• The flavoured cider market is becoming ever more dynamic as more customers shift from draught into packaged.

Cider has been one of the most dynamic categories in the on-trade over the last decade or so and it remains a vitally important category for most venues, although it does pay to stay on top of the fast-changing trends that are affecting the category.

According to the extremely in-depth and comprehensive Westons Category Report 2023, now in its eighth iteration, cider sales are still being affected by larger-scale shifts in consumer behaviour following the pandemic, as are all categories.

With working from home now an established fact of life, Friday has lost some of its importance, with CGA data showing that Thursdays and Sundays have become increasingly important to venues.

Additionally, evenings also appear to be making a comeback for drinkers, particularly early evenings which have seen a 7% hike in usage. CGA data also shows that out-of-home occasions have become more casual and lower tempo.

A person holding a glass of Henry Westons Cider

Cider crushing it

While these shifts have affected all categories, it’s cider that has been the biggest beneficiary with sales by value up 19.6% and cider’s share of the total drinks market up 5.7%. To put that in perspective, no other category comes close in terms of value growth. Beer is the second-fastest-growing category at +9.8% with soft drinks up 9.5%. Only the stout and world lager sub-categories are growing faster.
According to the Westons Report, draught apple cider accounts for 57.4% of the on-trade market by volume with draught fruit at 18.8% and packaged fruit just behind at 18.1%.

The report also notes that, despite the economic challenges facing consumers, the shift from mainstream cider into more premium brands continues to accelerate. In fact, more premium brands account for 56.8% of total draught cider sales.

This is good news for venues as more premium draught ciders generate an average RSP of between 45p and £1.11 more than mainstream cider.


Flavour conundrum

Once the rising star of the show, the flavoured draught ciders category is now slowing down, 2% year-on-year in the 2023 Westons Report. That means flavoured draught ciders now account for less than a quarter of the total market at 24.6%.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that flavoured cider is losing its appeal. The data indicates that what’s actually happening is that more and more drinkers are shifting into packaged flavoured cider with brands like Kopparberg, Rekorderlig and Old Mout benefitting.


Cash cow

Bear in mind, however, that while premium ciders are growing fastest, mainstream cider remains critical behind your bar. More premium brands like Stowford Press, Thatchers, Aspall, Inch’s and Westons may be garnering ever bigger followings but mainstream, functional brands like Strongbow and Magners still drive significant sales volumes.
So what should you stock? To a large extent that depends on how many draught cider pumps you have, or can make available. Westons advises that if you have two pumps, the best option is to include one ‘better’ – more premium – option and one fruit option.

If you have three pumps available, the advice is to opt for one ‘better’ option, one ‘best’ option and one fruit option.

Of course, the products and brand you choose will be dictated by your specific customer base and finding the right mix will be the key to maximising your sales and profits – but this general guide is a good place to start.

Three people holding bottles of Henry Westons Vintage Cider

Packaged picture

According to the Westons Report, more than three-quarters of on-trade cider sales are draught (76.2% by volume) but that means that a significant minority (23.8%) is packaged – and packaged is growing at 41.4% year-on-year.

With packaged cider easier to stock and manage, this could present a great opportunity to expand your cider range, particularly with summer on the horizon, by adding some new and interesting packaged ciders.

Don’t forget too that low- and no-alcohol ciders, while still relatively niche, are growing consistently and are likely to continue doing so as the wider trend towards moderated alcohol consumption continues.

Naturally, Greene King and Belhaven offers a comprehensive range of draught and packaged ciders to meet all needs and your Sales Representative will be happy to discuss your requirements with you to help ensure you have the perfect range to make the most of the category.

Whatever way you look at it, cider remains a vibrant, exciting and fast-moving category that offers plenty of opportunities for venues to grow footfall, sales and profits – particularly when the summer sun starts shining and customers start flocking to pubs and beer gardens across the land.

“More premium brands account for 56.8% of total draught cider sales.”


Stocking recommendations

Westons advises:
• An effective and efficient cider range is one that is clearly differentiated, with each brand and format offering something uniquely different.
• Draught space should be reserved for those more premium brands to which consumers will be drawn.
• Balance these with brands which are perceived to have an affordable, value for money, quality proposition.
• Two pumps advice: Better and Fruit
• Three pumps advice: Better, Best and Fruit