British tipplers drank a record one billion pints of cider last year, equating to an impressive 2.7m pints a day, according to Nielsen figures. The category also saw a 30% increase in value in the off-trade during the last 12 months, indicating that it is the high-priced, more premium ciders that are leading sales in the sector, said the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM). "These figures show that the recent rise in the popularity of cider has changed the fortunes of the industry for good," said spokesman Simon Russell. "The off-trade has supported this growing interest in cider by offering its widest range of cider and perry to date. However, there is still room to offer a wider variety of products covering the breadth of styles available," he added. The news comes despite three profit warnings in just over two weeks from Magners owner C&C International, which has been credited with the category's revival. The company has blamed wet weather and growing competition from Scottish & Newcastle's Bulmers Original brand for its poor performance. Russell denied the category was in danger, pointing out that cider had plenty of opportunities to grow. "Cider is still only a tenth of the size of the beer market so there is plenty of room for growth at this end. We are also seeing interesting developments at the top of the market, with cider and food, where we are beginning to compete with wine," he said.

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