US cider growing strongly - Crispin

US cider growing strongly - Crispin

Crispin Cider Co is eyeing a launch in the UK, the world's premier cider market, after bolstering its US-based business with the acquisition of Fox Barrel Cider Co.

Minnesota-based Crispin acquired California-based Fox Barrel at the end of January in an all-stock deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Crispin CEO and president, Joe Heron, has told just-drinks that the deal is set to give his firm combined volumes of 220,000 cases (24x12oz packs) in 2010.

The company is looking to use its super-premium portfolio and Fox Barrel's cider facility in Colfax, California to "accelerate our expansion plans across the US and beyond".

Heron told just-drinks that Crispin has "started investigations" in the UK. "It is an early look and certainly one would always see opportunity in the world's largest cider market," he said.

Back at home, the US cider market is growing in double digits year-on-year, according to Heron, having "substantially outperformed" a stuttering beer sector in 2009.

He attributed the growth to "an increasingly experimental beer consumer", as well as increased innovation in cider, particularly away from sweet styles.

These factors have been backed by "increased support and interest from beer wholesalers and distributors" and what Heron called "the global cider renaissance halo; there is more interest and noise than ever before - in the media and on the floor". 

However, cider continues to be dwarfed by beer in the US drinks market.

"The challenge is to move cider from a less than 1% of the beer market size to something that approximates international trends more completely; 5% or more of the beer market," said Heron.

"The growth in the US cider category is attractive to investors, particularly when one looks at how undeveloped the US cider market is relative to the UK, Ireland, Europe and South Africa," said Melvin Jay, a UK-based investor in the Crispin Cider Co.