Merrydown is getting refreshed packaging and a new lower strength and calorie variant to tap into the moderation and healthier living trends.

The new addition, Merrydown Crisp Apple Cider has an ABV of 5.5%, 30% fewer calories than the original - 39 calories per 100ml - 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. Aimed at those weekday ‘relaxing at the end of the day’ moments, the label describes the cider as Crisp, light & refreshing - a delicious way to enjoy one of life’s little pleasures’.

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 as Merrydown Original Vintage Apple Cider and taking the opportunity to introduce a new bottle design to align it with the appearance of the new Merrydown Crisp Apple packaging.

The new variant and pack refresh aims to boost the impulse sector’s £75 million (Nielsen Scantrack 25.02.17) glass bottled cider category.

There is no change to the recipe or ABV of Merrydown Original Vintage Apple Cider which has established a loyal consumer base. It will continue to be packaged in a 750ml sharing bottle, which gives it a point of difference over most other bottled ciders which are sold in 500ml bottles, but a change to the shape of the bottle will give it more wine cues and both of the Merrydown ciders will feature fresh new label designs which reflect the hand-crafted tradition and heritage of the Merrydown brand.

Both Merrydown 750ml sharing bottles have an RRP of £2.49 and are available in 6 and 12-bottle shrink-wrapped trays. Both lines will also be supported by in-store promotional deals to drive trial and repeat purchase.

Amanda Grabham head of brand marketing for 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% (Nielsen Scantrack: GB Impulse Glass Bottle Cider Volume 000 Litres, Value £ million 25.02.17)

“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 amongst consumers who prefer a lighter, drier tasting cider.

Grabham adds: “There’s that ‘Merrydown Moment’ at the end of the day when you when you want to sit down, relax, unwind and share a treat and now they have two choices - Merrydown Original Vintage Cider which is ideal for chilling out at the week-end; and Merrydown Crisp Apple Cider being the perfect choice for consumers who want to moderate their alcohol intake during the week.”