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Carlsberg launches Somersby cider while Heineken-owned Bulmers releases new Strongbow
Danish drinks giant Carlsberg is introducing a Herefordshire-produced cider just as Heineken-owned Bulmers puts the finishing touches to a new Strongbow pear cider.
Ledbury ’s Bevisol will make the Somersby brand for Carlsberg and Darran Britton, marketing and strategy director for the firm, said the move represents a major investment and show of faith in Herefordshire industry.
“We are using our brand-building expertise to launch a mainstream cider in a market which is enjoying double digit growth,” he said.
“In recent years the cider category has attracted a significant number of new drinkers.”
Gabe Cook, from Bulmers, has welcomed Carlsberg’s move, believing it could be good for business.
“I am sure we will fight them tooth and nail in the pub and on the shop floor but it is all good healthy competition,” he said.
"It's a massive success story: we are finding the revival of cider is continuing"- Matthew Langley of Westons
“The fact they are making it in Herefordshire is also testament to the county truly being the centre of cider knowledge and expertise.
It is a boon for the county that another cider-maker is to make its cider here.”
In a further boost to the county, Westons has just seen its Stowford Press become the third most popular draught cider in the UK.
Small brewers hope to benefit from cider boom
The move by Carlsberg holds no fear for smallerscale producers, such as Herefordshire Cider Company based on Roman Road in Hereford.
“We are going for a different market and we are quite small,” said Richard Leach, production director.
“But we could potentially package that cider here if they wanted us to.”
Westons, in Much Marcle , has seen its market share continue to grow.
Brand manager Matthew Langley said despite poor weather, Stowford Press is now the third largest draught cider in the UK.
“It's a massive success story,” he said. “We are finding the revival of cider is continuing.”
Tom Oliver, of Oliver's Cider and Perry in Ocle Pychard, said small scale producers are benefiting from the knock-on effect of bigger companies such as Stella Artois investing in new brands.
“Lots of people see cider as the trendy thing to drink which certainly was not the case five or six years ago," said Tom.
“It opens the door to the smaller craft-makers. There must be two dozen small producers in Herefordshire.
Seven or eight years ago you would have been lucky to find half a dozen.”
Cider sales in the UK have seen a 12 per cent increase in value and 10 per cent increase in volume over the last 12 months.