Cider set for greater international success

cider in glass
© Adobe Stock / User: SBH

Cider is experiencing growth all around the world and is increasingly becoming a true international beverage. One of the industry’s strengths is its flair for innovation, made clear at this year’s Global Cider Forum in Frankfurt.

In recent years, cider producers around the world have modernized their products. They are continuously adapting them, inspired by the latest consumer trends, to develop new cider varieties such as flavored, hopped, vegan, sustainable, low-calorie and non-alcoholic. It is clearly paying off as cider is experiencing substantially stronger growth than all other alcoholic beverages, despite a growth slow down over the last few years.

According to recent figures from Global Data, this beverage category has managed to achieve a worldwide 4% average increase in volume over the last six years. In contrast, spirits and wine have seen an increase of just 2%.

Regardless, cider already boasts impressive market share in some regions. The United Kingdom and Ireland are by far the largest per-capita consumers, each at 15 liters. No other country comes close. For example, Finland is third but with a much smaller 6.6 liters per capita, and Spain ranks fourth with just 2.45 liters. At 0.8 liters, Germany doesn’t even enter into the top 25 worldwide markets.

Important part of the economy in the United Kingdom

Seeing how the United Kingdom accounts for a 38% volume share, it is extremely important for the international cider market. Over 8 million hectoliters a year are sold in the United Kingdom as Gordon Johncox, Chair of the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM), pointed out in his presentation, referencing data from the market research institute IRI. With converted annual sales of more than EUR 3.5 billion and an export value of around EUR 136 million, cider is an important part of that country’s economy, according to Johncox.

The cider beverage category is, however, experiencing a gradual decline in this, its strongest market. According to Global Data, sales in the United Kingdom have fallen year over year by 0.56% since 2013. The IRI data presented by Johncox shows that this decline affects virtually all price categories. The dominant mainstream segment, which accounts for 55%, is impacted along with the entry-level price segment. Even sales in the premium segment, which had been increasing for a long period of time, are now falling.

The chair of the association believes that falling cider sales is partly due to the across the board decline in alcohol consumption amongst Brits and the heavily growing influence of the anti-alcohol lobby. Cider is also losing market share to other beverage segments, and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is also causing issues for the industry.

drink cider

New target groups are discovering a taste for flavored ciders

British “cider” and French “cidre” are what is referred to in German as “Apfelschaumwein” and “Apfelsekt”. It is made by pressing apples and allowing it to ferment under pressure. The difference between this and German “Apfelwein” is that cider fizzes and bubbles.

The significant rise in the number of flavored ciders on the market is opening the door to new perspectives. Johncox is confident that they will attract new consumers to the cider market. Flavored versions now account for at least a quarter of the retail market and 39% of cider sold in bars and restaurants.

The hospitality and catering sector in the United Kingdom is offering a glimmer of hope for cider sales. While off-trade turnover is down by 7%, on-trade turnover is up by at least 2% with stagnating volumes (+0.2%). This is occurring while prices being charged are going up significantly. For example, the average converted retail price is EUR 2.60 per liter. Bars and restaurants charge, however, around EUR 4.30 for a pint (approximately 570 milliliters).

Unlike the United Kingdom, Germany has, to-date, not been a big contributor to the global cider market. All major growth is taking place elsewhere, as Kevin Baker from Global Data demonstrated. According to his statements, the new markets in Eastern Europe are currently major drivers. Since 2013, the Czech Republic has been the fastest growing cider market, followed by Romania. Slovenia, Bulgaria, Russia. The Ukraine also ranks among the top 10. From a wider global perspective, North America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand have also seen decent increases.

Although, in recent years, cider has become an increasingly international beverage, Western Europe continues to account for almost 60% of the market volume. Keep in mind, though, 10 years ago, the figure for this region was almost 80%. Since growth has slowed, producers may soon be looking towards new markets for business.

Cider is boosting numerous trends

One of this beverage category’s strengths is clearly its skill with innovation. Since the late 1980s, more and more beverages have adapted using the juice of other fruits, in addition to the traditional apple. These flavored ciders are becoming increasingly popular and their market share is growing in most countries, according to Global Data.

Globally, apple cider still accounts for 78% of all cider that is consumed, with flavored ciders accounting for just 18%. However, the latter’s sales have seen an annual increase of on average nearly 17% since 2013. The last 4% relates to pear cider (also known as “perry”) which is becoming less and less popular in countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland and Scandinavia. Flavored ciders are particularly popular in Western Europe. According to surveys conducted by Global Data, the most popular flavored ciders are those that taste of berries.

Apart from the taste, cider is also a very innovative beverage category due to the many trends that it is helping drive.

Apples for cider production
© Adobe Stock / User: Zeitgugga6897

For example, products have been launched that contain fewer calories or include on-trend ingredients such as coconut water or cider vinegar. Producers are also focusing in on the issue of sustainability, in particular with regard to vegan and organic products. Finally, some markets have an active craft scene whereas others are blurring the lines between categories with inventions such as “spiders” that combine cider with spirit flavors and lashings of clever branding. These are solid foundations for future growth.

Anyone who is interested in the technical background of cider production will find the right forum at the international industry trade fair drinktec in Munich. Exhibitors from around the world will be showcasing their solutions here. Do you also want to be part of it? Then register here. The next drinktec will take place from September 13 to 17, 2021.

Barbara Rademacher

Barbara Rademacher worked for 18 years as an editor for a renowned trade magazine for the beverage industry. In July 2018, the trained journalist and her long-time colleague Dirk Omlor founded a text and consulting office with the central project