cider rat

Roald Dahl’s Frank Bean, the cider-making apple farmer who enlists rats to guard his produce from a certain Fantastic Mr Fox, would be seething. For the bottom seems to have fallen out of the cider market. 

After a decade of steaming ahead, cider’s engine has run out of juice. Brits have bought 2.4 million fewer litres of cider at the supermarkets in the past year, a decline of 0.6% [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 29 March 2015]; value is down 0.3% to £735.1m.

Granted, the percentage loss hardly seems catastrophic, but in absolute terms the volume slide is the greatest in the sector and brings to an end years of growth. A year ago, value was up 11.4% on volumes up 8.1% [Kantar 52 w/e 30 March 2014]. To put the growth in context, cider was worth just £279m in 2007.

So what’s going on? Are Brits switching to beer? Is cider’s slight slide over the past year just a blip or a sign of things to come? And how is the overall market performing?