Heineken wants to invest more in its cider brands

Heineken wants to invest more in its cider brands

Heineken has said US cider can grow to 5% of the beer market despite a recent slowdown.

The brewer's US president, Roland den Elzen, said Nielsen figures for the past 12 weeks show cider sales have cooled in the country after growing at an annual 60% over the past five years. But den Elzen said that although the industry consensus is for the category to grow to 3% of total US beer, Heineken believes that with the right investment, it can achieve more.

"We believe it can be in the medium term between 3% and 5%," he said. "We believe it can even be higher [than the consensus] but we are building a category and that takes time. It's not only about building brands, it's about building a category and explaining what that category is."

Heineken's Strongbow is the second-biggest cider in the US after Boston Beer's Angry Orchard and has had a "fantastic year", den Elzen said. However, he added that more investment is needed.

"We believe in flavours," den Elzen said. "Flavours drive penetration and attract new consumers to the category."

Heineken's 5% forecast is higher than that of Boston Beer's CEO, Martin Roper, who in 2013 said a 1.5% estimate "maybe optimistic". However, last year Roper said the US cider category could triple over the next ten years.

Rapid growth in the US has seen cider competition increase in the past year, while the rise of alcoholic root beer has also put pressure on producers as recent entrants switch to the new category.