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NATIONAL REPORT -- The malt beverages category may have found a new superstar.
Cider, although only representing a 0.3 percent share of the beer category (including flavored malt beverages), is poised for great growth due to national distribution, attractive demographic appeal and constant innovation, according to a Nielsen report.
In 2012, cider sales have grown 65 percent vs. 2011, with 1.8 million cases sold. In addition, the emerging category added 54 items this year, Nielsen noted. While traditional, apple-flavored cider sell best, ciders sporting flavors such as pear, hard apple and raspberry have been strong sellers.
As for why cider is selling so well, Nielsen hypothesized it is because cider draws the interest of the young Millennial demographic, traditionally a beer consumer who has switched allegiance to spirits in recent years.
"Cider offerings keep the Millennials engaged, hopefully preventing them from abandoning the total beer category," stated the Nielsen report. "… Ciders help the beer category remain relevant in current health trends, as they are an ideal gluten-free offering."
Also propelling cider sales has been packaging innovation, according to the report. Brewers are expanding to include new options for cider, including singles, four-packs and boxes.
In addition, convenience stores have and will stand to benefit from cider's rising popularity. According to Nielsen, cider sales grew a whopping 184 percent compared to year ago in the c-store channel.