Molson Coors has revealed it plans to limit its Carling British cider brand to three variants, after it rolled out an Orchard Fruits variant of Carling British Cider last week (rsp: £2.09/500ml). The flavour is the third in the range following Original and Cherry.

Carling brand director Jim Shearer told The Grocer that three flavours was the optimum size for the range. In contrast, rival Kopparberg offers eight flavours in the UK, and Bulmers seven.

“If you go beyond three flavours in the cider category, then the ability to drive new sales, and more people, into the category drops,” he said. “There’s a sweet spot of three flavours that a brand can occupy. What we won’t be doing is extending into fruit to the point where it becomes not easily understood or complex, in terms of our range.”

Shearer added that after launching its original cider in 2013, Carling had consciously avoided developing flavours that were offered by rival brands. “What we did with cherry,” he said, “given that we did come to the cider party late, was try to leapfrog what was going on and hop on a flavour trend that wasn’t being satisfied. [Orchard Fruits] will seek to do the same.

“Over half our sales have been incremental to the category – new people coming into cider. And we know that generates a positive margin benefit for the retailer.”

Orchard Fruits will be supported alongside the existing Carling British Cider portfolio with a £5.4m campaign across TV, outdoor and digital. The two existing varieties last year notched up sales of £14.69m – a 93.5% year on year rise [Nielsen 52 w/e 11 October 2014].