Cider brand White Lightning will disappear from shelves in April after supplier Heineken UK announced it is to pull out of the "problem" white cider category and concentrate on its premium brands.

Heineken's decision follows recent efforts to distance itself from the cheaper end of the cider market, including the removal of all extra-fill promotions and three litre packs across its higher strength cider products and the decision to reduce the ABV content of White Lightning from 7.5% to 5.5% in April 2009.

 Sales managing director (Off Trade) Mark Gerken said the move was a conscious effort to change the landscape of the category.  "Despite our efforts to premiumise the category, white cider has remained a problem for us. When we reduced the ABV we hoped other suppliers would follow, but  it seems we just created an opportunity for others,"  he said.

“As pioneers in the cider category we want to lead from the front. Premium and mainstream ciders continue to drive the overall growth of the category and our future investment will focus on our brands in these categories to respond to consumer demand and continue to drive value."

Heineken would continue to invest in its Bulmers, Strongbow and Jaques cider brands, Gerken added.