Source: Heineken UK

The drink rings in at 4% abv and 95 calories per 330ml can

Heineken is giving Strongbow Dark Fruit cider a healthy makeover with its latest NPD.

The drinks giant has unveiled Strongbow Ultra Dark Fruit, a new low-calorie drink with the flavour of its much-loved Dark Fruit fruit cider, in a bid to lure coveted younger shoppers.

The drink rings in at 4% abv and 95 calories per “sleek” 330ml can – a smaller serve than the core Strongbow Dark Fruit, which is sold in 440ml cans. Heineken said the drink offered 30% fewer calories per ml compared with standard Dark Fruit cider. 

Alcoholic drinks were falling behind “other fmcg segments such as desserts and snacking” when it came to offering low-calorie options, said Heineken UK cider brand director Rachel Holms, at a time when “consumers, especially generation Y and Z, want to see alcoholic drinks that fit with their desire to lead more balanced lifestyles”.

She called the launch a “market pioneer, opening a new segment within the cider category with its bold low-calorie credentials highlighted on pack”.

The NPD would also tap “lucrative” on-the-go and impulse occasions, she added.

Its rollout will be backed by a £12m marketing spend, spanning digital, TV, PoS materials and a 500,000 mini can sampling campaign.

It comes as sales of Dark Fruit – the UK’s second-largest cider brand, behind Strongbow Original – tumbled in the mults this year. They dropped 13.6% to £127.7m – a £20.2m loss – marginally erasing the gains it made in 2020, when it rose 11.3% from £132.6m to £147.6m [NielsenIQ 52 w/e 11 September 2021 vs 5 September 2020].

It wasn’t alone in its struggles, though: the entire cider category lost value in 2021, dropping £63.1m to £1,213m – a 4.9% decline, on volumes down 5.4% [NielsenIQ].