With beer consumption on the decline, Heineken NV, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, and Carlsberg have intensified their efforts to sell cider, a segment that saw U.S. volumes grow 20% last year, Bloomberg reports.
The stats come from Euromonitor International, which also reported that U.S. beer consumption fell 2% last year. And with craft beer sales growing steadily, major brewers are looking to expand their reach, with sweet-tasting cider appealing to women and others who might not otherwise choose beer.
“Cider’s a growth story because of the demographics — it’s sweet, it’s natural, it appeals to the Coke generation,” said Stephen Glancey, chief executive officer of Dublin-based C&C Group Plc, which sells two of the world’s biggest cider brands, Magners and Gaymers. “It’s unisex beer.”
The wrangling to gain a foothold in cider sales has brought some notable acquisitions. C&C paid roughly $26 million for U.S. cider brand Hornsby’s last year, and MillerCoors LLC bought Crispin Cider Co. earlier this year. Still others are producing their own labels.
Anheuser-Busch followed its launch of Stella Artois Cidre in the U.K. last year with Michelob Ultra Light Cider in the United States in May. And Boston Beer Co. unveiled Angry Orchard in the United States at the end of the first quarter. (NACS: www.nacsonline.com)