After the post-Magners boom of the 2000s, cider has been having a tougher time lately and the category as a whole fell 2% in volume and 1% in value in the off trade last year, according to Nielsen.
Any growth in cider is largely being driven by the rise of fruit-flavoured brands and the emergence of a craft cider scene.
Swedish brands Kopparberg and Rekorderlig have been the architects of growth in fruit cider over the past half-decade and their success has prompted big-brand launches like Smirnoff’s entry into market. Recent growth has been largely driven by the unqualified success of Heineken’s Strongbow Dark Fruits launch and 2017 has already seen Molson Coors add a Black Fruits flavour challenger to its Carling cider range.
Now, Heineken is turning its attention to what it calls ’artisanal cider’ with the launch of two products under the Bulmers Orchard Pioneers brand, which will sell for a 10% premium over the core Bulmers brand.
The Sarah’s Red Apple and Keir’s Cloudy Apple ciders aim to trade on provenance by featuring the stories of the growers who supply the apples on the packs and in the marketing.
Cider brands director, Emma Sherwood-Smith, says artisanal cider is "where we’d expect most of the growth to come in cider in the next few years". She adds: "Most of the brands in artisanal cider are small at the moment but they are playing into big trends across the market around premium and provenance. People come into the cider category and as they mature they move on to other drinks and drop out of cider, so it’s targeted at keeping them interested."