The cider sector is in danger of repeating the same mistakes as the once buoyant ready-to-drink category, Gaymer Cider boss John Mills has warned. The plethora of ‘faddy’ fruit-flavoured ciders that have hit the market in the last few years are in danger of devaluing the category, Mills told The Grocer.

“They have only been around for a short while, but they remind me of the alcopop phenomenon. They got some sales but then fizzled away. My fear is that the fruit fad won’t last, sales will drop, and people will incorrectly think the cider category as a whole is falling.”

Mills said he believed the future lay at the top end of the market, with premium ciders such as Addlestones and Aspall. “The future is in marketing and investment in quality ciders, which you can’t make with fruit other than apples or pears,” said Mills. “Other fruits are not true to what cider is traditionally about.”

The comments came off the back of a survey commissioned by the Constellation-owned company, which found industry experts believed the sector needed marketing investment more than innovation to maintain growth.

“Cider must not repeat the mistakes of the 90s, when growth slowed, the industry cut its investment and focused on price at the expense of quality. As a result, the market declined,” he warned. “We must retain current cider drinkers and draw new ­consumers to the market,” he said.

In April Gaymer launched a premium Gaymers County range to tap into interest in locally sourced British products.