At Crafty Nectar we have our fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in the UK cider scene. We’re very fortunate to work and collaborate with the UK’s top cider makers, renowned cider experts, and to get direct feedback from the consumer. You could say that we have every angle of the cider market covered. So with the start of 2019 well underway, we thought we’d share our insights on the key trends coming this year...
The main trend that remains prominent and has grown stronger since 2018 is that drinkers want to know where their food and drink is from, what’s in it and how it’s made. It’s all about heritage, provenance, and innovation, with quality prevailing over quantity and price. It is clear that the cider movement is progressing towards craft, heritage, and full juice content, as it grows from strength to strength. There is a cider revolution happening and we’ve only just scratched the surface.
So on top of that main theme, what do we think are the key cider trends to watch out for in 2019?
Craft Cider on Keg
Cider in 'on trade' and 'on draught' has been one of the strongest performing drinks categories over the past 2 years - growing in both value (+6.8%) and volume (+4.5%).
However, this is largely driven by mainstream producers with commercial draught cider `(representing 71% of all cider sold on trade). Because of this, there isn’t the variety and quality of ciders 'on tap' that consumers are looking for and so there is a real opportunity here for quality, craft, full juice ciders. Many craft cider producers still continue to stick to Bag in Box, which can be difficult to store, depreciates in quality and only comes in ‘still'.
It’s apparent that there is a real gap in the market for ‘Craft cider on keg’ and no one knows more than this than our very own CEO Ed Calvert who commented:
“Bag in the box is still the preferred way of selling cider to the trade, which is crazy in my eyes! Too often BIB’s are left at the top of the bar going warm and the cider is always past its best. As well as looking outdated, this sort of thing does nothing for the perception of cider.
Crafty Nectar Trade noticed this trend first hand at the end of last year, with our draught offering increasing by 720% with forward-thinking trade customers like Tobacco factory in Bristol and London venues looking for cool, quality kegged products, backed up by a quality bottle range in the fridge. It may sound clique but very much like the craft beer market! ” (Ed Calvert, Crafty Nectar CEO)
Crafty Nectar no7 & no.8 - the worlds 1st 'craft-sourced' ciders available on keg
There are a small number of craft producers who are kegging (Kentish Pip, Hawkes & Crafty Nectar for example), and we expect this to expand and grow throughout 2019. Crafty Nectar Trade is keen to modernise the market with our specialist #craftonkeg approach.
Fine Cider Growth
Back in June 2018 we saw the first Cider Salon this side of the Atlantic in Bristol; 60 ciders and perries from 20 producers which really thrust the quality and rarity that cider and perry can offer, firmly into the limelight. There’s still a long way to go with consumer awareness and education on what is available, but the message is spreading wider than ever. Social media chatter has picked up significantly in the last 8 to 12 months and there has also been the release of two fantastic books in the market: Ciderology from Gabe Cook (aka The Ciderologist) and The Cider Insider from Susanna Forbes.
We spoke with our resident cider writer James Finch (aka The Cider Critic) who wrote our Easy Guide to Fine Cider back in November.
“This is an exciting trend that started to really pick up pace in 2018, consumers are becoming more and more interested in quality and heritage, but also in uniqueness and innovation. Nothing explores all these quite like the fine cider movement. Think of all the nuances that exist with fine wine; terroir, vintage, history, a story behind the product and then picture it for cider and perry.
There are brilliant producers out there making some exquisite products and their numbers are increasing, with some exciting launches expected this year. On top of that we will have the second Cider Salon Bristol in June, which promises to be bigger and better. The future is exciting.” (James Finch, The Cider Critic)
The growth in fine cider isn’t just being felt within the cider maker and enthusiasts fraternities though....the South West restaurant chain, the Stables, who are always at the forefront of what is happening in the cider world and have been a major driving force for the craft cider revolution over the past 10 years, have also picked up on it.
Craft cider pioneers the Stable Restaurant launching fine cider collection in Feb 2019
No one knows more about cider than Stable Cider Ambassador Ross Duncan:
“At the Stable we strive to be at the forefront of cider development, styles, and trends. Creating an offering to our customers like no other. Fine cider is one of our key focuses going into 2019. We are extremely lucky to be able to access a range of ciders and work alongside such producers as Find and Foster, Pilton, Gospel Green and West Milton. We strongly believe at the Stable, cider and food are a match made in heaven, with the ciders refined, well-balanced, delicate flavours. We will educate our customers to experience something they will never forget” (Ross Duncan, Stable Cider Ambassador)
**CRAFTY NECTAR SUPPLYING STABLE WITH FINE CIDER RANGE (COMING SOON!)**
Even major supermarkets are also picking up on this trend, such as Waitrose's buyer Pierpaolo Petrassi who has been looking at the craft scene and taken note on the growing number of fine ciders appearing:
“Cider’s gone posh, with the introduction of 75cl bottles and production processes usually reserved for Champagne, such as underground ageing. Single variety ciders, using a particular type of apple, are also very popular in the craft cider movement." (Pierpaolo Petrassi, Waitrose Buyer)
Fruit Cider Growth will Continue (with a movement towards craft)
The Westons 2018 Cider Report found that fruit cider now represents a third of all cider sales and is the fastest growing category. Draught fruit cider has seen a 38% volume growth and 41.4% value growth in 2018. They expect fruit cider to make up just under 50% of all cider sold within the next five years.
Westons Cider Report 2018
How do you like them apples? …. Erm, not really 100% apples, but impressive stats anyhow.
The problem with the fruit cider market at the moment is that the main growth in fruits is driven by mass-produced “made wine”, with low fruit content, high sugar (Kopparberg Strawberry & Lime has 53 grams - that’s over 13 teaspoons!) and additives. Consumer research shows that consumers primarily seeking a healthier lifestyle, want to know what is in their drinks and don’t mind spending a little more on products that contain natural, traceable ingredients. Fruit cider shouldn’t be frowned upon if made with a quality (pure juice) base cider.
Crafty Nectar no.8 Rhubarb (made with real fruit juice) aims to replace the concentrate and offering on-trade today
In 2019 look out for producers such as Kentish Pip, Apple County and Saxbys knocking it out of the park with their wonderful fruit cider creations. All made with pure fruit juice.
Pairing Cider with Food
Food paired with Cider is overlooked, and it’s not something you tend to hear when attending a meal at a restaurant, and at the Stable, they aim to help bring this to life.
“In our opinion, Cider paired with food is better than any wine. A Ciders versatility and the different styles on offer give options to the consumer. Whether that be a traditional West Country style cider with bags of tannin, which accompanies any meat or earthy produce such as a mushroom, creating a beautiful balance.
Alternatively, a more modern style cider which is high in acidity that can cut through the dish and almost act as like a palate cleanser, giving a stunning freshness to your meal. A Key point to remember, Cider is much like a wine, but only better!”
Low ABV (Alcohol by Volume) Cider
In 2018 Westons owned cider Stowford Press launched their 0.5% 'Low Alcohol Cider' and Sheppy’s quickly followed suit with their new 'Low Alcohol Classic Cider'. Hogan’s cider have also released a low alcohol (1%) cider called ‘High Sobriety’. All are highly rated and gaining quite the following.
Sheppy's low Alcohol (0.5% ABV) Classic Cider
It is clear the low alcohol sector is booming. Sales grew by nearly 30% last year and the sector is set to be worth £300 million within 10 years - accounting for 5% of the beer and cider market. There is a growing trend for low alcohol as consumers’ lifestyle choices are changing. This is now more apparent than ever as over 3 million Brits are interested in taking part in ‘Dry January’ this year, as we are thinking more about what we put in our bodies. (Westons Cider Report, 2018)
Stowford Press 0.5% (Image: www.wisebartender.co.uk)
We caught up with Matthew Langley, Innovation & Insight Manager at Westons who has had some further insight:
"Low and no alcohol cider in the off trade currently represents 2.7 million litres volume, a tiny fraction of the 530 million litres of cider consumed in the off trade. It is, however, growing strongly at 47% year on year and will increasingly become important for the cider category as initiatives like dry January encourage reduced consumption of the more alcoholic versions." (Matthew Langley, Innovation & insight Westons)
As mentioned in the key theme above, consumers are drinking less in terms of quantity and more in terms of quality. Jane Peyton, founder of School of Booze and accredited Pommelier had the following to say about this exciting trend:
“As the Low & No alcohol drinks sector is now one of the most exciting and innovative in the beverage industry I expect more cider makers to launch their own brands. It’s hard for cider makers to produce satisfying No & Low that really do drink like cider so whichever brand owner achieves this will have grateful fans of cider who may want to reduce their alcohol units very happy!” (Jane Peyton, Drinks Expert & Cider Pommelier )
Co what now? We were fortunate to attend Imbibe last summer (our cider was a top pick don’t you know) and learn more about this innovative category from a lecture from the likes of Graff cider in the USA.
If you’re in any doubt as to the potential of this why not check out Hawke’s Sour Graff (collaboration with neighbours Anspach & Hobday) or Love Child (collaboration with Brewdog), the collaborative (Jonny Bright, Alex Cook, Gabe Cook aka The Ciderologist and Tom Oliver) effort that is La Saison des Poires. Or what about Starvecrow’s qvevri aged natural cider or the fabulous Dabinett and Pinot Noir skin co-ferment from Once Upon a Tree.
We caught up with Roberto, Chief Cider Maker at Hawkes on what excites him about working with others on co-fermentations:
“I think what’s inspiring me about collaborations is the shared love for producing something from scratch, this usually means a shared extreme passion about crafting, science, history, quality and everything that comes from the human knowledge and skills. When this love is shared, the results are gorgeous, incredible, extreme and sometimes beautifully unpredictable. That’s why we love to push the boundaries and experiment with different producers of cider or different categories of drinks.”
He then expanded further on the rewards:
“The whole process from the idea to the product launch to the feedback from the people is thrilling and overwhelmingly educative. Education, in fact, is at the base of what we are doing here in London: for us, for who collaborates with us and, most importantly, for the people!” (Roberto, Chief Cider Maker Hawkes)
Hawkes have also been recently experimenting with fermenting cider on grape skins from a local London winery. So keep an eye out for something BIG coming soon!
International Cider Trends
Finally, Susanna Forbes one of the UK's foremost cider writers and experienced cider judges, gives her summary, expert insight, and overview of key International Cider trends emerging in 2019.
"Expect to see rosé cider arriving in the UK as it has in the USA, with blush seeping from red-fleshed apples as well as summer berries. The US will continue its twin-track approach, embracing the heritage sector with ever more eloquent terroir-driven ciders while embracing innovation and emulating the craft beer revolution by triggering more inventive “craft” ciders.
Cans are here to stay, collaborations are cool, and look out for the international Cider is Wine quality cider alliance. Education remains as important across the pond as it is here, with the US Association of Cider Makers following in the wake of the UK’s Academy of Beer & Cider to launch its own route to Certified Pommelier stardom. Major export marketing support from the Australian government might bring some of Down Under’s finest to our shores for the first time. Finally, look out for Ciderlands, the new international cider culture and tourism destinations alliance, coming to a website near you soon. All in all, much to celebrate. Wassail!” (Susanna Forbes)
Susanna Forbes is the author of The Cider Insider, the essential guide to 100 craft ciders to drink now. (buy now)
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So there we are folks - our roundup of the hottest cider trends this 2019. Thank you to the experts, producers, and influencers who contributed to this piece ... 2019 is going to be an exciting time for cider that's for sure!