​Cider Corner — Expert Outlook: ​Should ‘Less Be More’ for 2023?

The global pandemic ushered in a couple of soft years in the alcohol category. Cideries, like Vander Mill, have seen a pull-back trend on variety at the distributor and retail level, which means the team at the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company is looking to see what will work for the future armed with that knowledge.

“We feel cider deserves its own space,” they wrote to Brewer in an email. “We want to prove this with a focused lineup of limited new items that are based on our high-quality, fresh-pressed Michigan apples. We always have apples in mind — whether we’re blending in roasted nuts, blueberries, ginger, and such.

“Fresh-pressed apples will always be at the forefront of every cider we produce.

“Cider is a long-standing tradition in both Europe and the United States and we want to make sure we honor that tradition by only producing beverages that we can be proud of and that really emphasizes the special nature of fermented hard cider.”

Vander Mill said that they feel that “less is more” in the current alcohol beverage climate.

READ MORE: ​Cider Corner — Expert Outlook: ​Overcoming Stumbling Blocks to Grow in Years Ahead

“We plan to continue making all the staple core brands, but also add a small number of new ciders to help keep our fans excited,” they said. “For example, you’ll see a new cider that’s based on an old-world approach, but with a new-world twist.

“We intend to expand more offerings of our flagship Totally Roasted on a local level. We also want to bring back some of our favorite past ciders on a seasonal calendar.”

2022 has been a very soft year when it comes to the traditional cold box beverage category unless you’re in the RTD space and/or big-package domestic beer​, they noted​.

​”​That said, we have spent this year planning new markets while simultaneously pulling back on some things​,” the Vander Mill team wrote. “​We’ve been looking towards opening markets in the South. This includes focusing on warm-weather destinations that we know Michiganders tend to visit: ​Tennessee, ​Kentucky, ​Georgia, and ​Florida.​”

They said they also ​”​put a microscope​”​ in ​its home market of Grand Rapids, ​to make sure ​they are a staple for local fans to have easy access to all packages and varieties.

​”We plan to renew our commitment and drive toward producing only the highest quality premium hard apple cider,” they said. “The market is saturated with so many fly-by-night, easy-to-turn-out cider flavors that it’s making heads spin. And quite honestly, many of those options are barely actual cider.​”

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