Total volume sales within the US cider market increased by 44% through 2012, to reach 85 million litres.
Cider appeals to both men and women and a relatively young demographic. Typically sweeter than beer, cider appeals to drinkers who are just beginning to enter the alcohol market.
Beer manufacturers have largely ignored the US cider category as sales have historically been less than a fraction of a percentage of those of beer. However, the contraction of the US beer category has caused many beer manufacturers and distributors to look forways to diversify their portfolios.
It was difficult for the industry to ignore the US cider industry as it posted 144% volume growth over the past five years, despite tough economic conditions.
As such, 2012 was a significant year as the two largest beer manufacturers in the US - Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors - both entered the cider market.
The two companies took different routes to entering the category. A-B InBev launched Michelob Ultra Light Cider. The cider is likely to follow a distribution path associated with the beer brand Michelob Ultra Light, hoping to gain consumers who try it based on the popularity of Michelob Ultra Light beer. Michelob Ultra Light Cider sold close to eight million litres in 2012, gaining a 10% volume share in 2012.
MillerCoors opted for acquisitions in order to establish a presence. In 2012, it acquired Crispin Cider Company, to be managed under its Tenth and Blake craft and import beer division. In 2012, sales of Crispin Cider grew by 287%, reaching 8.3 million litres.
Innovation is very important and many producers are now producing seasonal and limited edition products and marketing 'variety' packs containing a number of brand variants. Many producers are actively promoting consumer knowledge of cider, and in particular of apple varieties.
Apple is the most important flavour in the category, with many companies also offering at least one perry variant (pear). Perry cider is usually available on a year-round basis.
For more information on the US cider market, see the latest research: US Cider Market
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