Premium ciders owned by Merrydown, Westons and Thatchers have all reported a healthy uplift in sales alongside well-documented success from market debutant Magners this year, according to a new report from beverage research group Canadean.
The report shows that cider has benefited from clever marketing and new products, possibly pulling more consumers away from beer, which remained flat during the year.
Flavoured Alcoholic Beverages, better known as alcopops, were expected to have a dismal year with a projected 40 per cent drop in sales.
Canadean predicted cider's momentum would continue into 2007, when marketing spend is expected to reach record levels.
Cider had previously been shunned in the UK, even to the point that the Strongbow brand removed all reference to its apple orchard origins on packaging and promotions.
But this year Stongbow's owner, Scottish & Newcastle (S&N), was expecting a nine per cent sales rise for the brand. The firm, which still supplies 55 per cent of UK cider, also re-launched its Bulmers Original brand to combat a growing threat from Magners.
Cider, it seems, is officially cool again.
Magners' owner, Ireland-based C&C group, recently admitted it did not have enough supplies to meet demand in the UK and would add capacity to solve the problem.
Imports may play an increasing role on the market, despite a strong cider-producing tradition in the UK itself. S&N recently brought over a fruit cider Jacques from Belgium.
Producers of all sizes are now waiting to see what surprises next year's UK budget has in store.
Duty tax has been frozen on cider since 2002, and "the Chancellor may look to capitalise on the success of ciders to compensate for shortfalls in under-performing segments", warned Canadean.