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Flavoured styles lead drinks NPD

A new report from Nielsen shows that flavoured variants are dominating brands’ new product development focus across the UK wine, cider and spirits categories.

With new products generating £102 million in UK off-trade sales during 2014, Nielsen highlighted the three biggest sellers as Stella Cidre Raspberry, Strongbow Citrus Edge and Echo Falls Fruit Fusion Rosé.

Describing the latter as “one of the stand out launches of 2014,” Nielsen pointed to the Fruit Fusion range’s value sales of more than £20m for the year to 23 May 2015 as it suggested there was further room for growth in this area.

Speaking recently to the drinks business about the success of the Echo Falls Fruit Fusion line since its launch in October last year, brand owner Accolade Wines’ managing director Paul Schaafsma flagged up the product’s accessibility as a major source of appeal for consumers.

“Wine is a bit scary for some people and they don’t really know how the varieties taste,” he commented, “but Fruit Fusion makes it simple: it says that its tastes of peach and mango or summer berries, and we can get them into wine on the back of that.”

Despite the success of this wine innovation, Nielsen noted that five of the 10 biggest selling new lines were flavoured ciders. This trend has continued into 2015, where eight of the top 10 alcoholic drinks launches by value sales have been from this category.

With new additions to the flavoured cider scene including peach and elderflower variants for Stella Cidre, blackberry, cranberry and apple burst expressions from Somersby, and the Pimm’s Cider Cup, Nielsen predicted “another bumper year” for the category.

In particular the report flagged up a “big innovation” within the flavoured cider category in the form of Kopparberg’s RTD-inspired frozen pouches, picking the idea out as one to watch in future.

Although growth of flavoured cider sales has started to slow, dropping from 66% two years ago to 20% in 2014, the data analyst suggested “there is no sign of saturation in the market, with retailers still welcoming new flavours onto the fixture.”

However, it added: “This does however mean that the size of the prize is typically lower for new entrants in 2015 than it has been in previous years.”

Looking ahead into 2015, which is so far slowing a slowdown in sales of new products compared to last year, Nielsen pointed to a number of major flavoured spirit launches in the pipeline.

These include Jack Daniel’s Fire, a cinnamon-flavoured follow up to the Tennessee whiskey brand’s Honey expression, which launched in 2012 and has racked up £30.5m in sales over the last 12 months.

Commenting on this latest range extension, which follows in the wake of Fire Eater and Fireball launches by other North American whisky brands, Nielsen observed: “The cinnamon flavour looks to be on trend”.

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