Cider has had an important place in pubs and bars for years, and in the past decade sales have been buoyant, helped in no small way by innovations such as fruit ciders and increased interest in premium draught ciders.
So how best to take advantage of that interest and ensure your outlet both keeps existing cider aficionados happy and attracts new drinkers to the category?
Here are Take Stock’s top tips for cider success.
Know your audience
- £1.7bn is spent on cider in the on-trade, but tastes are changing.
- Once a red-hot seller, demand for pear cider has crashed – now accounting for just 4% of sales according to CGA Brand Index MAT data for 26 December 2015.
- And that data also tells us that while sales are down slightly, apple ciders still account for 70% of on-trade volume. They’re the real engine room for cider sales and act as an important footfall driver for customers – typically 35-50 year old men – looking for a traditional, session cider.
- The big winner is fruit cider, which now commands 26% of on-trade volume. Interestingly, demand is coming from a very different demographic to apple, namely 18-24 year olds – 42% of which are females – looking for and willing to experiment with new flavours and ideas.
So, when you’re deciding which ciders to stock, you really need to know your audience!
- 93% of all UK pubs sell cider
- 65% of cider sales volume is on draught
- 70% of drinkers think cider is more refreshing than beer!
What to stock?
According to Bulmers it’s bottled cider that has been driving their sales growth – especially flavoured ciders like their brand new Wild Blueberry & Lime flavour. This demand for flavours hasn’t gone un-noticed by other makers, just look at the success of Heineken’s Old Mout, Carlsberg’s Somersby range, Rekorderlig’s variants and Diageo’s combination of classic Pimm’s and cider in their Cider Cup family.
But ignore draught at your peril – sales are back on the rise, making a great case for operators to dedicate another pump to cider. So, maximise sales by having a house cider plus either a premium one to up-sell to; an ever-changing guest cider which could be classic or flavoured, or, to tap into a new style that’s gaining real momentum, a draught cloudy cider.
Get the mix right
It’s your clientele that will help determine the range and style of ciders you offer. Younger drinkers are typically adventurous, so make sure you’ve a good selection of flavoured ciders on draught – Strongbow Dark Fruits and the Rekorderlig range are obvious candidates – to complement your bottled and canned ciders.
With the growth in craft, drinkers are more interested in the provenance of the ciders on offer and want to know where they’ve come from, the apples used and the story behind the brands. To satisfy this ever increasing trend for information and innovation – and especially if you’ve already strong interest in cask ale, make sure you look at less mainstream craft ciders, many of which are now being offered in 20 ltr bag in box formats.
As with many other categories, premium continues to grow. Make sure you cover all your customers’ requirements and ensure you have a premium offering available to drive experimentation and trade-up, wherever possible.
Figures show they’re prepared to pay for the privilege!
Make the most of it
If you’ve spent time optimising your range of bottled, canned and draught ciders, it makes sense to maximise sales.
Do this by having:
A cider menu and/or blackboard: Tell your customers about what you have on offer. Include tasting notes, provenance and style. Promote your next guest cider and use POS materials to maximum effect too.
Food pairing: If you serve food, pair up your dishes with the cider or ciders that complement the dish best. See our guide overleaf.
Have cider cocktails: Did you know that gin and apple cider go really well together? Or that peach schnapps and cider, or dry ciders with golden rum are delicious combinations that enable you to offer a premium drinking experience that’s profitable too!
Get the glassware right: Cider makers go to great lengths to perfect their product, and make branded glassware available too. Make sure you use the right glass and that it’s clean and in perfect condition.
Train your staff: Customers wanting to experiment with flavours and styles really appreciate guidance. Make sure your staff are knowledgeable about the ciders you have on offer, including food pairings and ideal serves. If a cider is designed to be served over ice, make sure it is. It’s great theatre that gets other drinkers talking.
Food & Cider – the perfect match
Cider works with food just as well as beer and wine. However, it’s important to spend some time getting the right match.
It’s well known that cider works exceptionally well with pork dishes, both in the recipe itself and as an accompaniment. However, what about other dishes?
Here’s a quick guide to what goes best
Cream: The acidity in cider makes it ideal for cream-based dishes. But also, dishes such as risottos and baked pastas work well with a cold, crisp cider.
Chops: Pork with apple is a classic marriage. But Sunday roasts, sausage and mash, as well as ham hock and gammon are the perfect pairing with lighter ciders such as Rekorderlig.
Cheese: Cider goes fantastically well with Camembert, Cheddar and Wensleydale, but do exercise caution with the pairing of cider and strong blue cheeses such as Stilton or Roquefort – there is a definite clash.
Chicken & Crustaceans: Dishes that work well with white wine, a lighter cider, such as Old Mout Kiwi & Lime, will do the trick too. For example, mussels, fish pies, fish and chips and chicken casseroles.
Curry: A rich, bold cider works best with a good, spicy dish like korma, butter chicken or tarka dhal that tend to have a creamier flavour.