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Cider Sales Boom As Category Sees Entry Of Big Players

May 13, 2013

Hard cider sales are showing remarkable growth in the U.S. market as new brands inject dynamism into the category. Eagerly tapping into the trend, brewers including Boston Beer Co., MillerCoors, Anheuser-Busch InBev and others have all jumped into the cider pool.

The U.S. market’s top 10 cider brands increased by 62.6% to 9.58 million 2.25-gallon case depletions in 2012, according to Impact Databank. Most major brands, particularly domestic entrants, showed double-digit increases, including category leader Woodchuck, which grew 25% to 2.53 million 2.25-gallon cases.

Boston Beer Co. launched its Angry Orchard brand in 2011, and it did just 40,000 cases in that year. But last year it gained national distribution and grew to within striking distance of Woodchuck, hitting 2.2 million cases.

In February 2012, MillerCoors’ Tenth and Blake craft-import unit purchased Crispin Cider Company of Minneapolis. Crispin, which was launched in 2008, quickly gained a presence beyond its regional base once MillerCoors took over. Last year, brand volume more than doubled to 714,000 cases.

In May 2012, Anheuser-Busch InBev also made a play with Michelob Ultra Light Cider, a low-calorie entrant, which depleted 350,000 cases in 2012. This year, A-B has expanded its presence with the launch of Stella Artois Cidre. Constellation has entered the cider arena through its Crown Imports division, which began importing Carlsberg-owned Somersby Apple Cider into the U.S. last year.

Strongbow, the category’s largest imported brand, registered a 9.1% increase to 867,000 cases in 2012. Hornsby’s gained 3% to 860,000 cases and Magners advanced 16.4% to 675,000 cases in 2012. Ace, a California brand, ranked eighth and registered a 10.8% increase to 278,000 cases. Wyder’s advanced 10.2% to 248,000 cases and tenth-ranked Original Sin grew 28% to 160,000 cases.

This year is seeing even more new product activity. Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co. in April launched Smashed Apple Cider. Craft Brew Alliance followed in May with the launch of Square Mile Cider Company.

U.S. – Top 10 Cider Brands
(thousands of 2.25-gallon case depletions)
Percent Change
Rank Brand Marketer 2010 2011 2012 2010-2011 2011-2012
1 Woodchuck Vermont Hard Cider Co.1 1,525 2,025 2,531 32.8% 25.0%
2 Angry Orchard Boston Beer Co. 40 2,200 +++ +++
3 Strongbow Heineken USA2 685 795 867 16.1% 9.1%
4 Hornsby’s3 Wm. Magners Inc. 715 835 860 16.8% 3.0%
5 Crispin4 MillerCoors 115 348 714 202.6% 105.2%
6 Magners Wm. Magners Inc. 465 580 675 24.7% 16.4%
7 Michelob ULTRA Light Anheuser-Busch InBev 350 +++
8 Ace The California Cider Co. 180 251 278 39.3% 10.8%
9 Wyder’s Vermont Hard Cider Co.1 215 225 248 4.7% 10.2%
10 Original Sin Original Sin Corp. 90 125 160 38.9% 28.0%
Total Cider 4,623 5,891 9,579 27.4% 62.6%
1 Acquired by C&C Group in October 2012
2 Effective January 1, 2013
3 Acquired from E. & J. Gallo Winery in November 2011
4 Acquired from Crispin Cider Co. in February 2012

Source: IMPACT DATABANK

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