Hard apple cider isn’t just for the Brits anymore
Hard apple cider has been around since the collapse of the Roman Empire. Though it is most popular in Europe, (analysts at Technavio estimate that Europe accounts for 62.95% of the global market), it has been around the United States for a long time. Historical US figures, such as Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, drank hard cider, often because water was not as safe to drink as alcohol.
Though the market for hard cider has fluctuated throughout history, there has been a surge in the global market recently. Part of the drive in the market is due to the introduction of non-apple ciders; even though 88.19% of all ciders are based on apple, non-apple ciders are expected to grow more quickly (at a CAGR of 7.5% from 2016 to 2021, according to Technavio analysts). The global market is in the growth phase right now, but it will enter the maturity phase by 2021.
Hard cider makes a splash in the US
Hard cider has really taken off in the past five years in the US: in this period, the industry has grown by almost 900%. Between 2007 and 2015, the production of hard cider increased over 20-fold. Some experts believe that its popularity is due to its perceived health benefits: hard cider uses fresh fruit and lacks the same additives and sweeteners found in other alcoholic drinks. On top of this, hard cider production supports local farmers.
While drinkers in North America may be seeing a huge increase in the numbers of shelves occupied by cider in local stores, the global cider market in fact only represents 0.9% of the global alcoholic drinks market. But, according to Technavio analysts, the global cider market will grow at a CAGR of 5.24% from 2016 to 2021. In particular, the US market will experience a large growth: it currently accounts for 10.28% of the global cider market, but it will grow by 10.8% over the next five years, says experts at Technavio.
The number of cider makers in the US has increase by 30% since 2014, and now there are approximately 630 in the US. Many cider makers are craft cider makers, though there are a few larger players: Boston Beer Co produces Angry Orchard and represents 57% of the hard cider market in the US by volume.
The big apple cider state: New York
US cider makers are primarily located on the coasts or in the north of the country. This distribution is hardly surprising, since these areas are where apples are typically grown and most cideries prefer to grown their own apples to use in their hard cider. The home state of President-Elect Trump (New York) tops the list as the state with the most cider makers (72). The remaining leading states in terms of cider makers are as follows: New York (72), Michigan (64), California (62), Washington (53), and Oregon (52).
New York state is also the leading state in terms of the number of apples fermented into alcohol. Interestingly, while New York is the top producer in the country, it may not be the top consumer. One expert estimated that over three-quarters of the hard cider consumed in the US is done on the west coast (California, Oregon, and Washington, to be exact).
But the state of New York is supportive of the hard apple cider industry in the state, working on state and federal legislation that may lead to better taxing on hard cider in the future, thus allowing hard cider to compete properly with its true competitors: beer and wine. As a result of making hard cider more affordable, we may be seeing more hard apple cider consumed in New York in the coming years.