Early signs suggest cider has shared in a buoyant Christmas trading period for several drinks producers and retailers in the UK, with Aspall joining Magners' owner, C&C Group, in reporting a rise in sales.

Aspall sales volumes hit a record 500,000 litres, double that sold in December 2008, the Suffolk-based premium cider maker said today (15 January).

Its figures came on the same day that Magners cider owner C&C group reported a 17% rise in UK volume sales for December, helping the group to arrest a long-term rot in volumes.

Aspall and Magners operate at different ends of the UK cider market and their fortunes have varied greatly over the last couple of years

Today's trading updates, however, offer optimism to the whole sector.

Geoff Bradman, Aspall's commercial director, said: “The strength of our Christmas performance shows that it is an extremely important trading period for us and that cider is not just a summer phenomenon.

"We’re seeing an ironing out of the classical summer peak as the Aspall brand is increasingly appealing to consumers all year round."

UK cider sales are growing by 8% by volume year-on-year, against a total alcoholic drinks market down 3%, according to the latest available Nielsen data. Premium cider has driven growth.

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