Cider, the apple of brewers’ eyes – or wallets, anyway

original sin

Cider, or hard cider as Americans call it, promises growth in developed markets at a time when consumers are drinking less beer but are willing to pay more for premium products, such as independent “craft beer”, flavored lagers or indeed cider.

It tends to draw drinkers away from wine rather than eating into beer sales, attracts more women than does beer and commands a higher profit margin.

In volume terms, cider is only about 1 percent of the beer market, but prices are much higher. The United States accounts for about a fifth of global beer sales of $500 billion a year, so each percentage point increase there for cider could add well over $1 billion to the total revenue of cider makers such as world number one Heineken and number two C&C.

While increasing wealth makes emerging markets a bright spot for brewers, beer consumption in Europe and North America has been in decline for years and is expected to keep falling.

“Mass-produced beers have suffered due to the surge of craft beers in the United States … Big brewers feel the threat. Cider could be the escape hatch,” said Spiros Malandrakis, senior drinks analyst at market research group Euromonitor…

There’s a chunk of biz news in the middle here. Which might interest me during the week; but, I just really like good, craft-level cider.

New flavors have also helped expand cider’s appeal beyond middle-aged men to younger men and women and have made it an all-season beverage, not just a summer drink.

Social media have helped the spread, with women posting far more messages related to cider than beer. References to final exams, partying and dance festivals demonstrate its appeal to younger drinkers.

In Britain, the sector grew 24 percent in volume terms from 2006 to 2011, according to market research group Mintel, though it stalled somewhat in 2010 and 2011. Over the same period, beer sales have fallen 23 percent.

Cider makes up 15 percent of the long drinks market in Britain…

While Britain represents almost half of the 1.8 billion liters drunk globally last year, the United States is almost virgin territory. Americans drank just 59 million liters last year, 15 times less than Britons in a country with five times more people. Cider made up 0.3 percent of beer market volume.

However, that small base is growing fast, with ciders branding themselves as a healthier alternative – made from apples and free from gluten – and appealing to the sweeter palates of young people there…

In Britain, where cider need contain no more than 25 percent apple juice, shop sales of fruit-flavored ciders have grown by 80 percent in the past year, with additions of ginger, honey, rhubarb, cloudberries, red berries or lime.

France, where only drinks made exclusively from apples can be called cider, is the only major market in which cider sales are forecast to fall in the 2011-2016 period, according to Euromonitor, which sees an overall 8 percent decline there…

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Most of the article will appeal to investors – I think. There’s a lot to read and research if you’re interested.

Poisonally, I grew up getting absolutely wasted on crude, almost lethal hard cider from a local bootlegger in Connecticut. It was terrible crap and I thought it was going to kill me a couple of times.

Years later, my closest friend introduced me to the real deal in Normandy – and since then I’ve experienced some craft finds in Scotland, below in the land of the Sassenach and here in the States, Not widely available. But, consistent, with the tiny sparkle I prefer. It seems closer to pairing with the European country cooking my wife and I prefer.

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2 comments

    • eideard

      The sole difference here between cider and hard cider is whether or not there is any alcohol content.

      Never sampled a lot across the UK; but, the best I had was that made by a restaurant owner for his patrons – located in the middle of nowhere, standing alone in the middle of a hollow on Skye, he also baked the best dark rye bread I ever had in the UK.

      That was decades ago and I admit to being quite sozzled. Lucky we weren’t stopped for drink driving.

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