Following the cider boom in the off-trade during the height of the pandemic, the UK’s leading authentic cider maker, Westons Cider, explains how c-stores can continue to capitalise on a growing appetite for premium crafted cider.

The popularity of cider continues to go from strength to strength, with nearly half1 of all UK households now buying into the category. Following a record 2020 for retailers, 2021 showed a marked 6.8% increase2 on pre-pandemic cider sales – led by the booming crafted segment (+45.3% vs two years ago3).

A testament to this growing trend, Westons’ Henry Westons brand, known for its selection of characterful crafted ciders, is now the UK’s fastest- growing off-trade cider brand, worth £70m4 and rising  by 20.6%5. In fact, more than one bottle of the brand’s best-selling Henry Westons Vintage is now sold every second and is worth a huge £54m in total retail6.

Despite this colossal growth and almost total coverage in multiple retail, distribution in convenience remains far lower, at 76%. Putting that into perspective, the convenience channel could be missing out on a staggering £11.8m in sales by failing to prioritise the country’s most popular crafted cider7.

Convenience store owners can capitalise on the dominance of crafted ciders, and increase their profit margins, by stocking up on crafted propositions and making room for hero products, which will drive value sales.

 

Top products to fill your shelves

 

Numbers you need to know

  • The off-trade cider market is worth £1.2bn9
  • Henry Westons Vintage is the UK’s No.1 cider10
  • Stowford Press cans are growing by  21.4% YOY11
 
  • Year of the apple12: Data from Westons’ seventh annual cider report shows that apple cider has increased its market share from 60.4% to 62.5%. In comparison to 2019 figures, value sales of apple cider are up an impressive +11.4%, while fruit or flavoured cider has seen a comparably low increase of +2.7%, and pear is in decline. Most importantly for store owners, apple cider attracts a higher spend – with the average apple cider shopper spending an average of £81.30 per year. By comparison, fruit cider shoppers spend less than half this figure, at £36.01 annually.
  • Crafted cider: Currently the only segment of the cider market in growth13, crafted cider has increased its market share from 11.6% in 2019, to 16.4% in 202114 . Thanks to its higher-than-average price per litre, crafted cider plays an increasingly important role in driving value for the category. Crafted only from British apples, then slowly matured and spending time in oak vats, Henry Westons continues to be one of the driving forces behind the growth of this sub-category, with £10.3m added to the brand’s value in 2021 alone15.
  • Continued premiumisation: The long-term trend towards premiumisation continues to gain momentum, as even more cider drinkers adopt a ‘drink less, but better’ mentality. Ultimately, shoppers are seeking assurance that the ciders they’re purchasing can be relied upon to deliver on quality and taste because, although they might not be drinking as much, they’re looking for high quality options. That’s why it’s more important than ever for retailers to dedicate plenty of shelf space to popular crafted propositions, such as Henry Westons.
 

Plan your shelf

C-store fixture

1. Prioritise shelf space for best-sellers to drive cider sales. Today, 62% of convenience sales come from the top 10 brands16, so stocking best-sellers – such as the UK’s number one cider, Henry Westons Vintage – is a sure-fire way to maximise profit.

2. Keep a dedicated fridge space well-stocked with best-selling ciders – and make sure this is topped up regularly, especially during early evenings and weekends, when customers are making impulse purchases to enjoy. Henry Westons Vintage has a rate of sale more than four times17 that of its nearest competitor, so make sure you have enough facings to ensure you don’t run out of stock during busy times.

3. Forget about the myth that cider is just for summer. While fruit cider sales are heavily impacted by seasonality – selling well in the summer months and festive periods – apple ciders show a consistent rate of sale all year round. Make sure your shelves are always well stocked with best-selling crafted and mainstream apple ciders throughout the year, plus a selection of best-selling fruit cider options.

4. Consider stocking a range of pack formats to suit consumers needs. When it comes to crafted cider by format, glass bottles are the ‘go-to’ at 69.3% share in 2021 compared with 63.8% in 202018. Canned offerings continue to prove attractive to shoppers looking for lightweight recyclable formats while plastic bottles have experienced the steepest decline (-16%). Pint cans – such as the recently launched price-marked 4-pack of Stowford Press Apple Cider – significantly over trade in the convenience channel with a 7.4% share of cans value compared to 3.8% in total market19.

5. Weight stock in line with the cider market to maximise sales. The latest data shows that apple and fruit ciders continue to dominate, accounting for 63% and 32% of total off-trade sales respectively – with pear ciders now accounting for just 5% of sales20.

Sources
1 IRI to 23.04.22, 45% of households buy cider
2 Westons Cider Report 2022
3+4 IRI to 23.03.22
5+6 IRI to 29.01.22
7 IRI 12 weeks to 01.01.22. Opportunity in convenience multiples £2.2m, symbols £5.5m, independents £4.1m
*=Single bottle 8.2% abv vintage
8 IRI Info scan, Total Retailers,12 w/e 26.03.22
9 IRI to 23.03.22
10 IRI Info scan, Total Retailers, 12 w/e 26.03.22
11 IRI to 23.03.22
12 Westons Cider Report 2022
13 Westons Cider Report 2022
14 IRI to 23.03.22
15 IRI to 29.01.22
16 IRI 52 w/e 23.04.22
17 IRI to 23.03.22
18 Westons Cider Report 2022
19 IRI Info scan, 52 w/e 11.09.21
20 IRI to 23.03.22