According to Nielsen’s tracking of off-premise (that’s in stores, not restaurants) sales of hard cider in the United States increase by 89% in 2013 to $280,676,943. This follows on the heals of a 90% jump in sales in 2012. More importantly, this stunning growth rate in cider sales seems to be continuing this year. Nielsen shows that for the latest 13 week period ending April 26, 2014, hard cider sales in the United States are up 78%.
Compare this to changes in sales for other beverages in 2013: Beer: -1.9%, Craft Beer: +17.2%, Wine: +3%, Spirits: +1.9%, Cider: +89%.
What needs to be made clear in these figures for cider sales in 2013 is that nearly all the $280 million in sales is represented by a very few large cider producers. In fact, Angry Orchard—produced by the Boston Beer Compnay—reportedly owns 50% of the U.S. cider market. Then there is Woodchuck, the Stella Artois cidre, Johnny Appleseed from In-Bev, Strongbow from Heineken and the Smith & Forge brand from MillerCoors.
By implication, what is not necessarily clear in these numbers is the growth rate of the rapidly expanding number of craft cider producers—those small production cideries that tend to sell their bottles and cans locally. Across the country, wines, beers and spirits that are both recognized as true craft products and well as more expensive products are growing more quickly than their less expensive, commercial sized competitors.
We have no indication of what the sales growth rate for craft cideries was in 2013. However, if the really big guys pushed the needed at 89%, is it out of the realm of possibility that craft ciders increased sales by well over 100% in 2013. If I were a betting man, I’d happily bet they grew at least at this rate.
Cider in America is still in its infancy. Today, cider’s $280 million in sales is a drop in the bucket next to the $100 billion overall beer market, the $14.3 billion craft beer market and the $30 billion wine market. That said, if cider sales continue to grow at the 78% growth rate we’v seen in the last 13 week reporting period, then 2014 will see cider retail sales increase to over a half billion dollars. The future of cider in America is very bright.