Collectively in the UK we drink over 800 million litres of cider a year, according to a recent study by brewer Henry Weston’s. Some quick maths gives the figure of roughly 12 litres per person per year, or 1 litre each per month. That’s a lot of the sweet apple nectar – but which exact types tickle the nation’s taste buds the most often?
Strongbow & Strongbow Dark Fruits
Was the number one spot really going to be taken by anyone else? The UK’s favourite cider producer Strongbow notched up nearly £250 million worth of sales in 2018, pumping out over 600,000 hectolitres to pubs and shops across the country. Brewed exclusively in the UK since 1960, it’s also the world’s best-selling cider and the only cider brand to crack the top 10 alcoholic drinks in the UK by sales volume. Impressive stats!
But its not just the standard Strongbow pint that keeps them competitive. The market share of fruity ciders has grown from barely 1% in 2008 to just over 30% in 2018, and Strongbow capitalised on that with their obscenely popular Dark Fruits variant which launched in 2013. Although, largely thanks to traditional pub drinkers in rural areas, it doesn’t quite outsell the standard golden variety nationwide – yet.
That massive market increase in fruity ciders we mentioned? Mostly down to this Swedish brewer, who launched their ‘strawberry and lime’ cider on British shores in 2003. Along with Rekorderlig, Kopparberg is mainly responsible for Sweden’s status as the biggest cider exporter to the UK – with imports worth nearly £50 million in 2018 alone. Founded in 1887, Kopparberg is still a family owned business to this day. That offers a nice personal touch compared to Strongbow, which is owned by fellow cider producer HP Bulmer – who are in turn owned by the world’s second biggest alcohol brewer Heineken. Since their 2003 launch in the UK, Kopparberg now offer wide range of fruity ciders in various flavours. These include increasingly popular berry varieties as well as their latest invention, Rosé Cider, which uses red apples for a subtly sweet taste that more approaches traditional dry ciders.
We’ve previously established that one of the hotbeds of cider production in the UK is in Somerset, in the south west of England. However, Thatcher’s is the only cider on this best-selling list that is actually brewed in the famous cider country. First opened in 1904 by William Thatcher, and run for many years by his son Stanley Thatcher, the company is still owned by the same family today. In 2018, they made £86 million in turnover, selling nearly 300,00 hectolitres of their flagship brand, Thatcher’s Gold, alone. Part of their success is their west country roots – they only use local apples grown in their own orchard, or at peak production times from other local suppliers. Thatcher’s also sponsor sports teams and cultural events across the South West of England, including Bath Rugby Club, Somerset County Cricket Club and Bristol FC. Until 2019’s event, they were also the official supplier of cider to the world-famous Glastonbury Festival.