In 2015 Cider sales in the United States grew by 10.8% over 2014 to a total of $523,593,305 according to Nielsen, which tracks off-premise (retail, not restaurant) sales of alcoholic beverages. This 10.8% growth rate reflects a significant slowing in the growth of the cider sector from 2014 when growth in cider sales increased by 71%.
Perhaps even more important is Nielsen’s report that for the last 13 weeks of 2015 cider sales decreased by 4.6% over the same 13 week period in 2014.
Nielsen’s detailed tracking numbers concentrate in large part on supermarket and drugstores sales. As a result their studies reflect sales of the popular commercial brands such as Angry Orchard, Woodchuck and Johnny Appleseed, all of which have reported significantly declining sales in the later part of 2015.
What is not necessarily reflected in these numbers is the growth for craft cider and regional cider brands. The problem is that no organization nor any association of cider producers is tracking this sector of the market the way craft beer sales are tracked by the Brewers Association, the trade organization representing craft brewers across the country.
Anecdotal evidence, news reports and The Cider Journal’s discussion with various craft cider producers suggest strongly that craft cider sales remain on a much healthier growth curve than the numbers reported by Nielsen. However, without hard numbers it’s difficult for the craft cider industry to get a handle on where the market for craft cider is heading, an important fact needed for forecasting growth as well as when considering investments.
The United States Association of Cider Makers is the trade organization that represents numerous craft cideries across the country and is the likely candidate for tracking cider sales in the country. While it’s unlikely that the USACM could track all sales in the U.S., an important project would be for them to track the sales of a representative number of cideries across different regions to estimate growth rates of the craft-end of the cider market.