How ’bout them apples?

You’d have to have been living under the proverbial rock not to notice the surge in popularity cider has experienced over the last few years. Gaming Quarterly asks CUB’s General Manager – Cider, Craig Maclean, to explain.

Recent market research has acknowledged that things are changing in the alcoholic beverage industry. As IBISWorld has noted, “The beer manufacturing industry has undergone a shake-up over the past five years. Per capita beer consumption has declined sharply as drinkers have given up traditional brands, such as Victoria Bitter, in favour of premium beers and other beverages such as cider and wine.” (www.ibisworld.com.au) But why is this?

“More than ever, people are curious, they are searching for new flavours, and the cider category is listening and giving people something different to drink,” says Maclean. “Cider gives traditional beer and wine drinkers another refreshing alternative to quench their thirst and gives ready-to-drink beverages and pre-mixed drinks a run for their money.”

Maclean also points to IBISWorld’s published research, when discussing the drink’s rising popularity. “Over the next five years, spending on cider in Australia is forecast to jump a massive 21.5 percent, according to IBISWorld,” he says. “That is a massive jump, especially at a time when Australia’s per capita alcohol consumption is decreasing. International comparisons show a further upside, as one in eight Australians drink cider versus two in three UK residents.”

One of the drink’s best selling points is its wide appeal, according to Maclean. “The great thing about cider is it really does appeal to a wide range of people, both males and females. Everyone from age 18-plus is giving cider a try – whether it be your mainstream player like Strongbow or the more adventurous taste of Kopparberg.”

And when’s the best time to drink it? Any time, says Maclean. “While cider’s popularity peaks in summer, there is a cider for every occasion, all year round. First and foremost, cider is a refreshing, thirst-quenching choice, but there are definitely warmer flavours designed for the winter months. Mulled cider is proving popular both on-premise and in the home – Matilda Bay’s Dirty Granny can be transformed into the perfect mulled cider!” he notes.

Weather and climate aside, cider is a drink that is also suitable for all manner of different events and social functions. “Cider really is the perfect drink for any occasion, be it a backyard barbecue with mates or watching the game at the pub,” says Maclean. “The number of cider taps taking over in venues across the country is on the increase. Cider is certainly rivalling beer at the on-premise point of purchase as well as off-premise occasions.”

CUB boasts an impressive range when it comes to the apple-based brew. “CUB cider brands still make up 36 percent of dollar share of the cider market in Australia, with Bulmers, Strongbow, Mercury, Kopparberg and Matilda Bay’s Dirty Granny.

“Strongbow remains Australia’s favourite cider and has been ever since 1970 when it was introduced to the Australian people. Late last year, Strongbow launched its 10-can share packs, providing Strongbow drinkers with the cider in a convenient and easy-to-store format, making it the perfect cider to bring over to a mate’s place any day of the week. This month, Strongbow is setting a new standard with the launch of Strongbow One, a mid-strength drink that is equal to one standard drink per bottle.

“The purchase of Kopparberg last year has proved to be a successful move for CUB’s cider portfolio. The world’s number one fruit cider, Kopparberg, has quickly become a firm favourite among Australian cider drinkers, exceeding all expectations. Having been in Australia less than one year, it has already captured four percent of the cider market, while simultaneously Rekorderlig cider has seen a 4.7 percent drop in market share.

“CUB’s cooperation agreement with Kopparberg is an investment in the cider category and an opportunity to introduce new flavours to the Australian palate, including the popular Strawberry and Lime and Elderflower and Lime.”

Maclean doesn’t see cider’s star waning anytime soon. “There is no doubt that cider’s popularity will only increase as more and more drinkers opt for a cider over a beer, wine or RTD (ready to drink) beverage. The way that cider will evolve is through different flavour combinations, on-and off-premise occasions and maybe even food matching,” he concludes.

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