The Annual Cider Report from Westons revealed a record year for the off-trade, and highlighted the strong performance of the convenience sector. With volume growth of 19% compared to the 17.9% growth seen in total market (IRI 52w/e 2nd Jan 2021), and value sales of 21.8% versus 21.2% (ibid), the report claimed that the convenience channel had “boomed” during the pandemic.

The latest Westons Cider Report reveals almost half of UK households (47.7%) now buy in to the category, which attracted almost a million more shoppers in 2020. What’s more, shoppers bought cider in greater volumes – averaging an additional 30 litres per household, up 9.4%.

“After a year of almost continuous government restrictions, and the consequent closure of the on-trade, we’ve seen a huge swing towards the off-trade – which now accounts for 63% of cider value and 83% of cider volume (up 28% and 19% respectively),” says Westons Cider’s insight and innovation manager Tim Williams.

“Looking at the specifics, the data is particularly positive for crafted cider – which was the fastest-growing segment last year – as consumers turned to more premium, higher-value offerings to mimic the out-of-home drinking experience.

“In fact, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest cider drinking occasion last year was a quiet night in – up from 19% of serves a year ago to 21.6% of serves in 2020.

“The challenge now is for cider brands to keep engaging with these new consumers to help the off-trade retain some of the share it picked up in 2020, even as pubs, bars and restaurants reopen.”

Westons sixth annual Cider Reports reveals growth of crafted cider continues to significantly outpace the overall category (up 48.7% versus 21.2%). This can be largely attributed to the role this subcategory plays in driving premiumisation, as the price per litre of crafted cider is significantly higher than the market average (£3.23/L versus £2.31/L). 

“The figures suggest that stocking premium, branded lines with provenance and heritage will unlock a significant sales opportunity for retailers,” says head of marketing Sally McKinnon. “However, there’s still a huge untapped opportunity to drive premiumisation and value growth across the wider category. Understanding cider drinkers’ motivations and the new opportunities beyond Covid will be integral to this, and innovations within other fast-growing subcategories could help to spread value growth more evenly across the category.”

Head of business development Darryl Hinksman was confident that off-trade sales would remain sunny even with the reopening of the hospitality sector. “Our research suggests the future is looking bright for the UK off-trade,” he said. “A Summer of sport and the possibility of meeting with wider circles of friends and family will undoubtedly drive both out-of-home and in-home drinking occasions.

“Over the past year, UK grocery retail has played a crucial role in maintaining presence and momentum for the cider category. The sheer popularity of crafted ciders, the emergence of diverse offerings within the cloudy and rosé subcategories and the growth of the online and convenience channels have played a key part in this, and we expect these factors to remain important throughout the year ahead.”