Gabe Cook – aka the Ciderologist – runs his beady eye over what we can learn from the biggest drinks purchase so far this year
Big brewers are still interested in cider
Despite C&C’s continued running down of its stable of brands, and Carlsberg and ABI’s relative lack of success with their Somersby and Stella Cidre brands, respectively, over the last few years, there is still scope for big brewers to increase volume, revenue and distribution with the right cider brand in its portfolio.
This can be demonstrated by the Fuller’s owned Cornish Orchards, and I am certain this will be the case with Molson Coors and Aspall.
- Mainstream is in decline
The growth, activity and excitement within the UK cider category is happening away from mainstream brands. Cidermakers are focusing either on sickly sweet fruit flavours targeted at the younger, high tempo demographic (which I am convinced will feel the same plummet experienced currently by mainstream within the next five years) or on brands with heritage and provenance, such as Aspall.
- Distribution in the on-trade is tough
Part of Aspall’s issue was the ever-rising level of challenge associated with increasing distribution. Unless you are a brewer with a large estate through which to distribute, competition for tap space is at a premium and it is a cut-throat business.
- US is a big opportunity
Aspall was one of the first UK cidermakers to venture into the US, and is exceedingly highly regarded by the US cider industry. Given that, according to the Westons Cider Report’s winter update, the US is the world’s fastest-growing cider market, there is a great opportunity for Aspall and Molson Coors to drive growth on the other side of the Atlantic.
- Craft cider will continue to rise
Whether or not you agree that ‘craft’ is an actual ethos or process, there is no denying there is still both cachet and cash to be made in this territory. If Aspall was considered ‘craft’ before its purchase, many would now not consider it so, purely on the basis of its multinational parentage (see Camden Brewery for the beer equivalent). One hopes that the curious consumer will seek out any number of the smaller, craft (or just plain old fantastic) cidermakers churning out great products in the UK and beyond.
Read more? Susanna Forbes picks the Four Cider Superstars you have to watch