Flavoured cider trends 2023, include familiar flavours, affordable price points, and the ability to align with wider drinks trends that are all helping the flavoured cider sub-category to hold strong.
Though volume growth for the UK’s cider market has been modest – 705m litres were sold in 2022, up by just 5.7% – value growth shot up by 27%. The category is now worth £2.95bn*.
Within this, flavoured cider holds one-third of the market*. And getting into the granular data shows how it could deliver further. More than 40% of cider drinkers now choose flavoured versions**, with premium packaged flavoured ciders and mainstream draught flavoured ciders generating £399.17m and £334.51m value, respectively, in 2019-2022**.
Now the category has the cost-of-living crisis to contend with, while still recovering from the huge dips it was dealt by the pandemic. To find its course through this, opportunities exist around sustainable options, health-focussed alternatives, and flavour-first creations.
Flavoured ciders tend to be attractive entry points to the category for new drinkers. They can also offer an affordable alternative to more expensive drinks. And for drinkers seeking sustainable options cider can easily align with ‘green’ marketing messages.
Younger drinkers and women will be critical to the category’s growth and profitability, given 18-34-year-olds account for well over half of all cider drinkers and 62% are women**. Understanding the drivers for these demographics and offering escapism, adventurous flavours, affordable luxury, and environmental products will pay off.
*Westons Cider Report 2023
**Heineken Cider Report 2022
Challenges to consider
While there are a range of ways to increase the appeal of flavoured ciders, the category still faces some challenges. Mintel forecasts that slowing consumer spending will lead to a 2.6% dip in volume sales of cider between 2022-27, but that this will be somewhat compensated by a 9.6% uplift in values sales, projected to rise to £3.8bn*.
This drop off in volume sales is expected to be influenced by:
Cost of living crisis
While the relatively lower price point of most ciders has protected the category during the cost-of-living crisis, brands must remain mindful of how stretched household budgets continue to hinder both at-home and out-of-home drinking trends.
In the face of squeezed consumer spending, though, cider’s typically lower price point and lower ABVs will fare better under changes to alcohol legislation and taxation. Draught flavoured ciders will benefit from the government’s updated draught relief scheme, along with lower ABV ciders attracting lower levies under the upcoming alcohol duty reforms. However, the category will still be subjected to the lifting of the blanket alcohol duty freeze, meaning consumers can expect to see product price rises.
Alcohol moderation and wellness
As more and more adults moderate their alcohol intake, cider is expected to be impacted. However, as the wider NoLo category continues to grow, there is opportunity for cider brands to diversify their lines to appeal to drinkers exploring alcohol-free options; particularly as 20% of consumers would like to see more NoLo ciders available**. Alcohol-free ciders are the fastest growing sub-segment of the category***, as the bigger brands have invested in 0% versions of leading flavours. Similarly, extending into hard seltzers is a viable way to recreate cider flavours in lower calorie options.
Sweet cider flavours tend to be offputting to older drinkers, a challenge compounded by the declining population of 20-34-year-olds. But new cider flavours incorporating sharper flavour profiles could appeal to over 45s, particularly if incorporated into marketing messages communicating how different apple varieties, or additional ingredients, impact the flavours of cider.
*Mintel Cider Report UK, 2023
**Westons Cider Report 2023
***Heineken Cider Report 2022
Opportunities to explore
Flavoured ciders can align with wider drinks trends, from creations that highlight historical or sustainable ingredients to changing usage whether in cocktails or for meal pairing.
Opportunities exist for further growth in flavoured cider, through:
Made using British apples, cider boasts genuine and recognisable sustainability credentials – supporting biodiversity in orchards and requiring fewer ‘food miles’ than its rivals. These can be further added to with sustainable packaging pledges, use of ‘wonky’ or surplus ingredients, or brand alignments with wider environmental efforts.
This is already helping to build on recent value growth for the category, meeting the demand of the 46% of cider drinkers who say they’re willing to trade up or choose premium ciders*. Volume sales of premium flavoured ciders grew by 78.2% last year*. Sweeter or more exotic flavours are typically good entry points for drinkers new to the category, particularly young people or women, and work well for more premium products.
Changing usage occasions
Last year’s winter World Cup demonstrated the appetite for cider as a year-round drink, beyond being just a summer serve. Creating seasonal, winter warmer flavoured ciders or highlighting how cider flavours can complement meals will help to extend usage occasions.
Suitability for cocktails
Cider also has real potential to work in cocktails, particularly with the variety of flavours and ingredients able to be paired with base apple flavours. Up to 66% of cider drinkers (for those aged 18-34), or 51% across the board, are open to using cider in cocktails**. Creations incorporating herbs and spices have already blurred the lines between flavoured ciders and cocktails. RTD versions of these will offer added convenience and affordability.
While unusual recipes will stand out on the shelves and appeal to the younger cider-drinkers typically open to new experiences, long-established recipes for ciders are just as popular. Ciders with historical recipes, using heirloom varieties of apples for example, appeal to 31% of drinkers**, highlighting the value of sharing stories around cider’s flavour and origins.
*Heineken Cider Report 2022
**Mintel Cider Report UK, 2023
Flavours for ciders
Now flavoured cider is such a well-established sub-category, there’s scope to really experiment with new cider flavours.
This is easy with such a versatile base flavour. Apple works well alongside other orchard fruits like pears and damsons, stoned fruits like apricots, cherries or plums, tropical or international fruits like dates, lychee, pineapple or mango, and almost all citruses and berries. As well as fruits, apple pairs with florals like rosehip or elderflower, sweet ingredients like caramel or toffee, and herbs, spices, and nuts too.
Citrus flavours of cider are increasingly popular, whether as flavour enhancers or lead flavours. As blood orange-flavoured drinks and confectionaries dominated through 2022, brightly coloured citrus ciders fared very well. This could now overlap into global flavours, by adding in less common, international citruses like kumquat or yuzu.
Exotic cider flavours
Old Mout and Rekorderlig have really established the premium and tropical flavoured varieties with their Pineapple & Raspberry and Kiwi & Lime, and Passionfruit and Mango & Raspberry offerings, respectively. Tropical additions suit wider drink trends for exotic flavours with international influence, as well as preferences for ‘little luxuries’ in the face of tightened discretional spending.
Bold cider flavours
New cider flavours could easily build on the 2023 drinks trend for big, bold flavours by introducing spiced, tart or sour ingredients – such as elderberry, gooseberry, or smoked cherry flavourings.
Berry flavoured ciders continue to be the most popular creations, leading sales for mainstream, independent and own-label brands alike. Dark, mixed and wild berry ciders have now been around for 10+ years, including with complementary citrus or tropical flavours.
Boost your flavoured cider range with us
At Simpson’s, we’re experts in developing flavours for ciders. Our team have the experience and expertise to help clients capitalise on all the latest trends. Chat to our team today to discuss your ambitions or latest project plans.