Staying on top of what is new in the beverage industry can sometimes make you forget about its history. When watching the Ken Burns three-part PBS special “Prohibition,” I was surprised to learn that some of the founding fathers of the United States enjoyed fermented cider.
With such a deep history, it’s interesting that in the United States, the alcohol beverage has not seen the same type of growth as beer, wine and spirits, or even a similar momentum as in other developed countries.
According to the September Beer & Cider report by Mintel International, Chicago, cider’s subdued activity is likely because cider consumption is heavily concentrated in Europe, where the market research firm reports 60 percent of cider launches took place from January to June 2011. The report also references Mintel’s December 2010 Cider – UK report, which states that from 2005 to 2010 cider’s user base in the country increased from 18 to 27 percent of adults.
Although it’s more prominent in Europe, the category has started picking up steam in the United States. According to Chicago-based SymphonyIRI Group, the cider category increased 25 percent in dollar sales in supermarkets, drug stores, gas and convenience stores and mass market retailers, excluding Walmart, for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 30, 2011.
One of the growth leaders is Minneapolis-based Crispin, which SymphonyIRI reported had 307 percent growth during that same time period. Crispin Hard Cider Co. President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Heron jokes that the company refers to themselves as the Oregon Ducks of cider — they pass faster than anybody else.
Category leader Woodchuck from Vermont Hard Cider Co., also showed strong growth with nearly a 37 percent increase in dollar sales and almost 4 percent growth in market share bringing it to 47 percent for the period ending Oct. 30, according to SymphonyIRI data.