Heineken to put the squeeze on C&C with launch of new cider
Dutch drinks giant in fresh push to grow its share of the Irish alcohol market
Drinks giant Heineken is to put its weight behind a new cider in the coming weeks as it sets out to win a greater share of the market.
The new cider brand will join Heineken's Orchard Thieves, which has taken a share of 12pc of the market in less than three years.
The new entrant will put market leader C&C under further pressure in Ireland, where it has already lost ground to Orchard Thieves. In its most recent financial update, the Bulmers owner said that the Irish trading environment "remains highly competitive, both within long alcoholic drinks and from other categories".
Heineken Ireland's managing director Maggie Timoney said the company believed it could win an even greater share of the cider market.
"We think that there's still not a lot of choice in cider in Ireland and we want to ensure that we can offer more choice to the Irish consumer. So we're going to continue to innovate in cider and offer that choice, and we will launch a new cider in the next two to three weeks," she said.
Timoney declined to reveal the name of the new brand, but said it would not be a niche offering. "I would say it's a very balanced cider, so not too sweet, not too dry."
She also said that the company had been impressed by the impact of Orchard Thieves. "We invested a lot of money, but it did exceed our expectations and we still have a lot of work to do on that. It's a young brand."
C&C will not welcome new competition from Heineken. It generates revenues of over €300m in Ireland and has an operating profit margin of 20.1pc.
For the year to February 2018, it said the "overall cider category had declined 1pc, while Bulmers brand volumes were down circa 6pc reflecting the loss of on-trade draught distribution points".
Heineken has also just launched a low-alcohol beer in Ireland, Heineken 0.0. It is already available in around 20 countries.
Timoney said: "It is a launch to satisfy a consumer need that is absolutely there if you look at the consumer trends globally, and even Ireland, moderation, health and wellness, are key trends. A brand like Heineken should offer consumers choice."
Sales in the low and no-alcohol category are growing in Ireland.
"As trends continue to move in the positive direction for low and no alcohol, I think retailers and publicans will be forced to offer more choice," said Timoney.
Sunday Indo Business