2015 Cider by the Numbers | NBWA: America's Beer and Beverage Distributors

The cider market ended 2015 with a somber reminder that trends can and will change quickly in the world of alcohol beverages. Final data for December 2015 tax paid cider volumes recently came available, closing the year on a radically different 2015 cider market compared to 2014.

Combined domestic and imported volumes closed the year at 28.2 million case equivalents, only 9.7 percent higher than 2014. That figure represents a big deceleration from the 55 percent growth posted in 2014, when the industry jumped from 16.6 million cases in 2013 to 25.8 million cases in 2014. Overall, the cider market for 2015 only accounts for 1 percent of the combined beer and cider volumes.

While the 2015 slowdown was remarkable, the dynamics within the industry were noteworthy as well. The majority of larger suppliers now include one or more cider brands in their portfolios; many smaller brewers also have added a cider to their lineup; and importers continue to re-grow their lost share from years past.

Before the 2013 boom in ciders, imports made up approximately 30 percent of the U.S. market. Strong domestic growth in 2014 pushed import share below 10 percent; however, 2015 saw a rebound to 15 percent.

While trends may have slowed, there is a lot more action to come in 2016. If 2015 trends continue with a 10 percent growth rate, the cider market in the U.S. is expected to exceed 31.1 million cases in 2016.

The long-term strategy for cider remains to be seen. In countries such as the U.K., cider is close to 15 percent share of the market (combined beer and cider) and crosses a much broader selection of price points and brands. In the U.S., 2015 saw many new products introduced in the hard soda and FMB segments, including alcoholic root beer which clearly impacted the cider numbers for the year. Continued innovation in the alcohol beverage market in 2016 will be exciting to observe as cider and beer markets continue to interact and evolve.

For additional information, please contact NBWA Chief Economist Lester Jones at ljones@nbwa.org.