UK cider sales top £1 billion for first time since 2014

The UK’s cider industry has hit sales of £1 billion for the first time since 2014, Nielsen has confirmed, with sales rising by 5.5% year-on-year in the 12 months to 15 July 2017.

Cider sales crossed the £1 billion mark for the first time since 2014 this year.

Warm weather at the beginning of the summer helped “propel” annual cider sales above the £1 billion threshold for the first time since 2014, said Nielsen, with sales between the middle of May and middle of July, alone, increasing by 16% year-on-year.

Cider brands experiencing particularly strong growth across the year included Thatchers (up 44%), Kopparberg (+21%) and Rekorderlig (+17%). Strongbow remains the biggest in the sector, with 28% market share.

However analysts warned that the industry has a lot of work to do to make the category more popular outside of “BBQ season”.

“This is extremely welcome news for cider manufacturers after what’s been a sustained period of struggle,” said Helen Stares, a Nielsen expert on the liquor industry. “However, it also highlights how highly dependent the cider industry is on good weather – essentially it’s been brought back into growth off the back of some near record-breaking temperatures.

“Cider is arguably the most reliant alcohol on good weather in terms of consumer behaviour. Its key to long term and sustainable growth is making itself more attractive to people outside of the BBQ season, as indicated by our preliminary data showing sales dropped off quite notably once the weather worsened from late July.”

Beer also benefitted from the warm weather in May and June, with British households spending 9% more on beer between mid-May and mid-July than the same period last year, helping the category to grow 5% annually to £3.9 billion.

“Beer’s improved performance is particularly impressive considering the comparison is against a summer that included football’s second biggest international tournament, the European Championships,” notes Stares.

“Even against that comparison, over half a million¹ households bought beer in the early summer of 2017 that didn’t in the equivalent period in 2016. Alongside new customers, sales revenues are up due to a combination of higher prices and shoppers trading up to more premium brands.”

Beer brands with particularly strong growth across the year included Corona and Coors Light (both up 25%), Budweiser (+18%) and Peroni (+15%). Stella Artois remains the biggest in the sector, with a 12.5% market share.

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