Global alcohol consumption steadied in 2017 thanks to cider

Alcohol consumption worldwide actually grew in 2017, thanks to a rising number of cider drinkers providing relief to the industry after months of steady decline.

The cider category grew by 2.5% last year, the equivalent of 6.3 million nine-litre cases. Only wine performed better, winning ground back from Prosecco and Sparkling wine with 12 million more cases being bought by consumers.

Total global alcohol consumption grew slightly in 2017, increasing by 3.5 million cases compared to the year before, according to the IWSR.

The 0.1% uptick comes after a fall of 1.25% in 2016, when the steady decline in drinking worldwide was beginning to speed up.

Italy, Russia and the US were the top growth markets for still wine, while the UK and France saw the largest declines.

In the UK, cider and sparkling wine grew higher, while still wine sales are still on a steady downturn.

“Though cider growth in Europe has slowed,” it said, “momentum in Africa and the Middle East helped spur a 2.5% global volume increase.”

A number of drinks firms both large and small have bolstered their cider ranges to keep up with consumer demand, with a focus on both craft and fruit-flavoured versions of the drink.

The vast majority (90%) of fruit ciders sold in the UK use berries or mixed dark fruit, according to a recent market report from Westons Cider.

The most-consumed draught cider in the UK last year was Strongbow Dark Fruit, while both Koppaberg’s strawberry and lime and mixed fruit-flavoured ciders topped the rankings for the best-selling bottles in the On-trade.

Though they have been accused of sharing many similarities with ready-to-drink, canned beverages in terms of their flavour profile and target consumer age bracket, Westons said fruit ciders have “done much to revitalise cider by bringing in consumers who would otherwise not have entered the cider category.”

In the midst of developing a global craft beer empire with outposts in Australia, China and the USA, BrewDog invested an undisclosed amount in London’s Hawkes cider last April to support the producer’s “imminent growth both at home in the UK and internationally”.

In January, US beer giant Molson Coors bought Aspall Cider in a deal thought to be worth £40 million. Later in the same month, CAMRA announced proposals to expand its remit to include cider and perry. Trade fair ProWein also gave cider a share of the limelight, while pink cider has been billed as the drink of the summer. 

Furthermore, a number of cider brands including Magners, Bulmers, Addlestones and Blackthorn are set to benefit from the acquisition of Matthew Clark, Bibendum and their other subsidiaries by their owner, the C&C group, along with AB InBev.

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