Cider firms in the UK may look to lower the alcohol content of their products, following in the footsteps of a new wave of lower alcohol beers, the new head of the country's cider trade body believes.

Cider could profit from the growing popularity of "premium products at 4% abv", said Henry Chevallier Guild, the new head of the UK's National Association of Cider Makers (NACM).

"The launch of Blackthorn (from Constellation's Gaymer Cider Co.) at 5% this year proves that you can make a lower strength product and still have the same quality," said Chevallier Guild, speaking exclusively to just-drinks ahead of his first NACM meeting as chair today (2 September).

Brewers have already begun to tap into the lower abv trend, with Anheuser-Busch InBev launching Stella Artois 4% abv in the UK last year, following on from its launch of Beck's Vier, also at 4% abv.

Commenting on the health of the cider category in the UK, Chevallier Guild said: "We're still in growth, but the category is not showing the rate of growth that we have seen in the last two years.

"We are showing good resilience in the current economic conditions and we have been helped by some of the new products that have come onto the market in the last year."

The newfound popularity of pear ciders, he said, is a good example of innovation in the cider sector. However, he warned producers against "becoming too faddy" in their attempts to boost sales.

Chevallier Guild has been a prominent member in the NACM for eight years, after being asked to join following success at his company, Aspall Suffolk Cyder. Aspall, despite its success over the last 15 years, remains a relatively small player against brands including Magners (C&C Group), Bulmers (Heineken) Gaymer.