2017 Named the Year of Regional Cider By US Association of Cider Makers

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Where There Is a Strong Regional Cider Brand, the Overall Hard Cider Trends in the Market are Much Better Than the National Average

Photo courtesy of Austin Eastciders, Austin, Texas.

It's similar to what happened in craft beer several years ago. We are having a parallel movement as cider drinkers look to support local brands.

The United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) is pleased to report that Regional Cider saw significant growth in the first three quarters of 2017, according to recent findings from Nielsen and other industry tracking agencies.

“There has been a lot of chatter within the media about a slowing down of the cider category, but it’s misleading,” explains Michelle McGrath, USACM Executive Director. “When you remove the national brands from the analysis, you see continued growth for the combined categories of regional and local ciders.” The data shows that where there is a strong regional cider brand, the overall hard cider trends in the market are much better than the national average.

According to the Nielsen data commissioned by USACM for their members, Quarter 3 of 2017 (vs. Q3 of 2016) shows a substantial increase in off-premise sales of regional cider brands, with sales up 35.6%.

Examples of major gains for Q3 regional cider are seen in the following markets: Virginia (+33%), North Carolina (+55%), California (+26%), Texas (+73%), Oregon (+49%), Washington (+42%), and New England–defined by Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine (+45%).

Regional cideries are adding production capacity and new markets to their distribution. Combined with increased sales, all signs indicate that the development of strong regional brands is a national trend.

McGrath explains that the trend reflects cider drinkers eagerly exploring local offerings. “It’s similar to what happened in craft beer several years ago. We are having a parallel movement as cider drinkers look to support local brands.”

Today, there are around 800 cider companies in the United States. That number represents a doubling in the number of producers in the last three years, and new cideries continue to open every month.

Traditionally, cider sees a significant boost in sales this week as consumers purchase cider to enjoy for Thanksgiving. “After the 4th of July, Thanksgiving is the biggest week of the year for cider. You’ll see cideries all over the country offering specials right now,” commented McGrath.

Below are regional examples of category growth. Please contact USACM for additional local market examples.

Examples of regional cider brands with tremendous increases in sales include:

  • ACE Cider (CA), who has seen continued steady growth at 25-30% per year since 2008.
  • Shacksbury Cider (VT), who grew from roughly 20,000 case equivalents in 2016 to over 40,000 case equivalents in 2017.
  • 2Towns Cider (OR), who anticipates seeing over 50% for 2017, and has maintained 50%+ every year since inception in 2010.
  • Seattle Cider (WA) who saw exceptional growth in their home market as well as around the country with some states up over 100% year over year.  
  • Golden State Cider (CA), who produced 350,000 gallons in 2017, up from 150,000 gallons from the previous year.
  • Austin Eastciders (TX), who saw a 144% increase of sales of Q3 2017 versus Q3 2016.
  • Bold Rock (VA and NC), who saw a 61% in sales in the past year.

Examples of regional cider brands adding significant production capacity include:

  • Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (OR), who is moving its cidery into a new space in 2018 that will quintuple its cider-production capacity.
  • Austin Eastciders (TX), who opened a new 1,960-square-foot tasting room in November 2017, allowing the brand to host cider fans in their own space for the first time. “This has been a major goal for the company,” said CEO Johnny Heiselberg.
  • Stowe Cider (VT), who tripled its square footage for production recently.
  • Noble Cider (NC), who recently expanded their production facility to accommodate 3-4 times their current production and will open a second Taproom in 2018 with a restaurant.
  • Urban Orchard Cider (NC), who announced today that they will be adding a second tasting room with additional production capacity.
  • Stem Ciders (CO), who will add a new production facility and a food-focused taproom in 2018.

Examples of regional cider brands adding new markets to their distribution include:

  • Noble Cider (NC), who added distribution to parts of Georgia and South Carolina and plans to fill in distribution for both of those states and the rest of North Carolina in 2018.
  • Stowe Cider (VT), who added four new markets in 2017 including Maine, Washington D.C., Connecticut and Upstate New York.
  • Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (OR), who will expand cider distribution to the east coast and Europe in 2018, the result of its new cidery.
  • Seattle Cider (WA), who added Tennessee, South Carolina, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in 2017 and is poised to add 3-5 additional states in 2018.
  • Stem Cider (CO), who expanded distribution to Illinois in early 2017.
  • Austin Eastciders (TX), who added Kansas to their distribution this year.

About USACM:
The USACM is an organization of cider and perry producers in the United States. Its mission is to grow a diverse and successful U.S. cider industry by providing valuable information, resources and services to our members and by advocating on their behalf.

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Michelle McGrath
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