Apples make a comeback

Premium bottles and cans on trend

APPLES are back on trend with cider drinkers, Aston Manor has found.

The firm behind cider brands including Friels, Frosty Jacks and Kingstone Press, has attributed growth in the category to increasing consumer interest in quality cider with traceable origins. 

Glen Friel, marketing director at Aston Manor explained: “Cider has been back in growth for a while now but it’s no longer fruit cider that is spearheading the revival, this time apple cider is firmly driving the growth.

“We attribute this growth to the rising consumer interest in more provenance and quality.

“Fruit cider is not the powerhouse of growth it once appeared to be and a proliferation of flavours and brands resulted in unwanted duplication on retailer shelves. 

“We are now starting to see that duplication being stripped back and a renewed focus on apple, particularly premium single bottles and 330ml craft cans.”

The trend towards smaller packs comes into particular focus in Scottish stores this month with the long-awaited implementation of minimum unit pricing.

Friel said that while Aston Manor will continue to make brands such as Frosty Jacks – subject to a major price hike under MUP – available to retailers, the firm will also increase its focus on smaller packs like 1L PET bottles and 500ml cans.

We are now starting to see a renewed focus on apple, particularly premium single bottles and 330ml craft cans.

And while high strength white ciders have been under the media spotlight since MUP got the green light last year, Friel reckons the introduction of MUP is likely to have a major impact on alcohol in general, far greater than many consumers expect.

He explained: “The introduction of minimum unit pricing will have a substantial impact to significantly increase price inflation across many alcohol categories, including cider, to a far greater degree than many people presently believe.

“Our estimates based on the last 12 months of alcohol retail sales in Scotland (IRI), show that this inflation could be as much as £134m, excluding sales from discount retailers.

“This effect will be felt across all alcohol sectors, including those everyday cider and lager brands that are found in shopping baskets of the majority of Scottish consumers.  Only 16% of this price inflation is likely to be attributable to high strength cider.

“It is difficult to predict whether a market for counterfeit products will be created. We feel an increase in cross-border and online sales is more likely, which retailers will need to monitor.”