Westons has seen impressive volume growth in Australia

Westons has seen impressive volume growth in Australia

Cider producer Westons has reported strong growth in its largest branded export market, Australia, but flagged up concerns over the lack of category labelling laws in the country. 

The UK-based group saw year-on-year volumes to the end of February rise by 40% in Australia, with the country now accounting for 17% of its international sales. During a media presentation in London today (26 March), Westons' commerical director, Roger Jackson, said: “Australia is enjoying staggering growth. The sector is being driven by premium products and fruit styles.” 

The company has been selling cider in Australia since 2005 and set up a subsidiary, Westons World Brands, in 2012.

However, Jackson pointed to the issue of “fake alco-pop style cider” being sold in Australia. He highlighted a flavoured cider that Westons is selling in the country called Cheeky Rascal, which he said contains “natural ingredients, no concentrates and no flavourings”. But, he said: “Not all ciders (in Australia) are like Cheeky Rascal.” 

Jackson also flagged that trade body Cider Australia has committed to get the country’s labelling laws strengthened by the federal government. Quoting Cider Australia’s new president, Sam Reid, he said: “At the moment, it is not possible to tell what is in a beverage labelled cider - a lot of popular 'ciders' contain nothing but artificial flavours and sweeteners, allowing them to be sold quite cheaply. 

“It is important that there is credibility in the labelling laws to allow consumers to make informed choices on the products they drink.” 

Jackson compared Australia to the UK, in terms of where growth is coming from in the category. Premium ciders now account for a third of category volumes in the UK, while non-apple and pear ciders are also performing strongly in the region. Last year, total UK cider sales were up 6.2% in value terms, Jackson said.