Fruit drops

Cider’s pulling in punters with its vast array of flavour variants. Tracy West looks at how various brands are capitalising on consumers’ love of fruit


APPLE MAY TAKE THE lion’s share of cider sales but it’s fruit cider where the growth is coming from. According to the Westons 2016 Cider Report, fruit cider in the UK on-trade is growing by a whopping 34% a year and now accounts for 26% of volume.

And it’s not just in the UK where cider sales are rosy. Canadean data estimates that an additional 640m litres of cider will be consumed worldwide by 2020 with total volume expected to reach 3bn litres. The UK downs the most, accounting for a 33% share, but Canadean reckons the US, Australia and South Africa will contribute nearly 70% of the additional cider volume.

Within each of these markets ‘new and innovative’ ciders are said to be causing sales growth as consumers switch from beer and other flavoured alcoholic drinks.

According to Canadean, the super-premium fruit flavours of Scandinavian cider brands such as Kopparberg and Rekorderlig are driving the increased consumption in Australia, while in South Africa drinks that appeal to a younger demographic are driving both volume and value.

Natalie and Stephan Meyer own the Clarens Brewery in the foothills of the Maluti mountains in South Africa. As well as a wide range of beers, they sell Red Stone cider. Says Natalie: “We‘ve seen a marked rise in popularity in the past three years. Where we initially only had a pure apple cider which sold well, we now have four fruit flavours, including cherry and pineapple, which outsell the apple by far.”

Their main outlet for sales is their own brew pub but they also distribute to seven other craft beer outlets/brew pubs in South Africa. Meyer would love to be able to sell the cider further afield but says: “Although we’ve been producing cider for 11 years, we’re not even close to supplying the South African market demand.”

She puts Red Stone’s success down to the fact that they emphasise the hand-crafted, preservative and additive-free aspect of the cider. “In addition, the fact that the product is locally produced plays a huge role.

“As for the perfect serve, our

ciders are fermented with real fruit juice, so a lovely glass with some ice is all that is needed to enjoy the real fruit flavours.”


In New Zealand, Simon Smith, the spokesperson for DB Breweries, says that in an on-premise environment flavoured ciders are a premium offer, and are typically served over ice with garnish.

“Flavoured ciders are seen as the entry point into the cider market due to their sweeter, less challenging taste profile, and their single bottle format means they are an easy way to explore different flavours,” he says.

Smith adds that berry-type flavours are the most popular varieties. They are mainly consumed by women and tend to be enjoyed at the start of an evening out.

“Flavoured cider makes up one-third of the cider market within New Zealand and has seen rapid growth that drove the category for several years. As taste profiles develop, we have seen consumers move through the category into more traditional-style ciders, which has slowed the growth of flavoured cider, though it continues to be the segment within cider that sees the most innovation.”

New Zealand brand Old Mout cider was launched on to the UK market in 2014 and brand owner Heineken reports that it is growing at a phenomenal rate – contributing 17% volume growth to the market in the on-trade.

Emma Sherwood-Smith, brand unit director of cider brands at the company, says: “Old Mout drives value for licensees – a branded glass, filled with ice, a cold Old Mout and a garnish of fresh fruit can command a more premium price and is a real point of difference to other ciders.”

Heineken has tripled its media spend on Old Mout in the UK compared to last year, as the brand is growing and the world cider segment is driving value within the category. Its latest multi-million pound campaign aims to further establish the brand’s unique, quirky character and increase consumer awareness and interest.

Meanwhile Kopparberg, a brand that’s positioned as the ‘world’s favourite local cider’, is available in 37 countries and, as well as doing well in the UK, it is performing impressively in Spain and Australia too.

The Kopparberg story started back in 1882 when the brewery began with beer then went on to traditional apple cider. Access to pears led to the launch of perry then use of the wild fruit growing in the forests around the brewery led to the firm different fruit flavours.

Kopparberg customer marketing manager Rob Salvesen says mixed fruit cider hit the UK market in 2007 and it’s still the company’s bestselling cider today. But that’s not to say there hasn’t been further innovation from the brand – new flavours and pack formats have all helped in attracting young consumers. The UK is the number one market for Kopparberg and Salvesen puts this down to people travelling a lot and being exposed to the brand when they’re abroad.

After mixed fruit, the second best selling flavour here is Strawberry & Lime, which is in double-digit growth of 17%.

“Fruit cider is very refreshing and is doing unbelievably well in the on-trade,” says Salvesen. He says it’s best served over chunks of ice in a Kopparberg branded glass. “We’re a lean company with just 35 employees but, wherever possible, we communicate the perfect serve. We’re currently working on tools to share with the on-trade.”

He believes it’s really important for bar staff to understand where the product comes from. “Provenance is key and staff should know what is produced here and abroad to deliver the notion to consumers that it’s worth paying more for.

“Food pairing is important too – bar staff should speak to their chef to understand which flavours work best together. This is important to driving additional sales.”


Kopparberg is currently backed by a new multi-million pound marketing campaign entitled Fånga Dagen across TV, press, digital, outdoor, PR and social media. A new TV ad takes its inspiration from the same phrase, which is the Swedish way of saying ‘life is what you make it’.

New flavours typically bring new sales and Heineken’s Bulmers added Wild Blueberry & Lime to its range earlier this year to cash in on the popularity of blueberry as a flavour in other categories.

Sherwood-Smith said at the time of the launch: “Blueberries’ popularity is soaring in the UK yet, surprisingly, there is currently no mainstream blueberry flavoured cider in the market, until now. The new Bulmers Wild Blueberry & Lime cider addresses both consumer demand for blueberries and the trend for experimenting with different flavoured ciders.”

She adds that Heineken’s expertise with NPD in cider is unrivalled and, most importantly, it works. “Last year’s launch, Bulmers Zesty Blood Orange, was the biggest cider NPD of 2015. It brought one million people into the Bulmers brand, 50% of which were new to the cider category.”

As well as the trend for fruit-flavoured ciders there are now more alcoholic drinks with added cider. Pimm’s, British cider and a hint of fruitiness is how Diageo describes its Pimm’s Cider Cup range, which this year was boosted by the addition of three new flavours – Summer Fruits, Mango & Passionfruit and Plum & Red Apple. These follow the successful launch of Pimm’s Cider Cup Strawberry & Cucumber in June last year.

Claire O’Neill, innovation commercialisation manager at Diageo, says: “Our insight shows us that frequent cider drinkers are more likely to experiment by trying something new.

“With its truly different, less sweet and more fermented taste, the newly extended Pimm’s Cider Cup range provides innovation that taps into this lucrative category and we’re confident it will drive sales for licensees.”

Diageo’s latest innovation mixes cider with vodka to create Smirnoff Cider in two flavours – Raspberry & Pomegranate and Passionfruit & Lime. It’s described as lightly fizzed cider with a blend of crisp, fruit flavours combined with Smirnoff vodka.

It comes in “an innovative clear glass bottle”, which Diageo says will make it stand out from other fruit ciders as its simple style aims to convey the crisp, clean taste of the liquid.

O’Neill continues: “There have been a number of innovations in the fruit cider category over the past few years, and as the market continues to grow in both the on and off-trade channels, we still see that there is potential to grow the category even further.

“By entering into the fruit cider category under the strength of the Smirnoff brand name, and with two original flavour offerings, we’re confident Smirnoff will take cider to the next level.”