SHS Drinks is launching a new lighter, lower strength, lower-calorie crisp apple variant of its Merrydown cider brand, in a bid to tap into the moderation/healthier living trend.

The new addition, Merrydown Crisp Apple Cider has an ABV of 5.5%, 30% fewer calories, no artificial colours or flavours and no added sugar as it is sweetened naturally with apple juice, a combination which gives it a drier, lighter flavour profile.

The new line is being rolled out from the end of March. At the same time, SHS Drinks is re-launching its flagship 7.5% ABV Merrydown Vintage Medium Cider renaming it Merrydown Original Vintage Apple Cider.

It is also taking the opportunity to introduce a new bottle design to align it with the appearance of the new Merrydown Crisp Apple packaging.

Amanda Grabham, head of brand marketing - alcohol at SHS Drinks, said: “Despite glass bottled cider sales dipping in the impulse sector by 4% in both volume and value over the past year - heritage ciders are continuing to perform well with value sales up by 21%.

“This surge in consumer interest in quality, craft, traditional and heritage cider plays directly to Merrydown’s strengths as an established brand which already has a loyal and broad consumer base.

“Unusually for a heritage cider brand it appeals to both higher affluence shoppers who are seeking quality authenticity, as well as to ‘on a budget’ shoppers because the 750ml sharing bottle offers an excellent tasting cider at great value for money when compared on a pence per litre basis to other heritage cider brands in 500ml bottles.

“With the re-launch of Merrydown Original Vintage Cider and the new bottle and label design we are getting back to Merrydown’s roots and dialling up the inherent heritage and quality cues, while the introduction of Merrydown Crisp Apple is aimed at broadening the appeal of the brand further and opening up new consumption opportunities and occasions among consumers who prefer a lighter, drier tasting cider.”