Craft Brew Breaks into Cider

The Northwest Cider Week has kicked off with a special surprise this year, inviting the Craft Brew Alliance for the first time. The Alliance includes: Portland, Ore.-based Widmer Brothers and Woodinville, Wash.-based Redhook launched its Square Mile Cider Co. last month as its first foray into the region’s already packed cider market.


Here is a little more about craft brewers breaking into the cider market from


In the context of the current cider market, the Alliance’s claim is potentially substantial. According to market research firm SymphonyIRI Group, hard cider sales at supermarkets and other stores hit about $90 million for the 12 months ending Oct. 30. That’s up more than 65% from a year earlier and outpaces the 5.6% growth of wine and the 13% growth of the craft beer segment in 2011, as well the 1.7% growth overall beer sales last year. SymphonyIRI’s research excludes sales at liquor stores and discount stores such as Wal-Mart (WMT_), which may downplay cider’s growth a bit, but small cider makers are being joined by big brewers who want a bite of the cider market.

Hard cider sales still get tossed into the overall beer market and account for 0.2% of of sales, according to a report by Nomura Research. It’s a sixth of the 1.2% market share held by Samuel Adams brewer Boston Beer (SAM_). Half of cider’s consumer base is made up of women, compared with only 20% for beer. It also sells for an average of $35 a case, according to Nomura. That’s well above the $29-a-case paid for imported beers and $33 brought in by craft beer.

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