Drink Tank

One in five (seeds)

Visit any popular nightlife destination this summer and it’s clear to see that cider has become the drink of the moment. So why is cider now the drink of choice for so many young people?

We’ve been watching the cider phenomenon with interest, particularly in light of new evidence young people are drinking it to excess, and often. In fact, it’s one of the fastest-growing alcohol categories in the country. Incredibly, sweetened cider brand Rekorderlig recorded growth of almost 300 per cent in 2012.

A VicHealth survey of 6000 Australian adults has given us valuable insight into what might be driving this growth.

We found that the ‘typical’ cider drinker is a university-educated young woman, who drinks more than her non-cider-drinking peers. The vast majority of cider drinkers are health-conscious, and 79 per cent of cider drinkers surveyed said they would consider buying a low-alcohol cider (less than 3.5% alcohol per volume), if one were available.

The survey also revealed:

·        One in five now consider cider their beverage of choice

·        Women are more likely to select cider as a preferred drink compared to men

·        Reasons for choosing cider include taste, it’s ‘less bloating’ and it is viewed as a ‘party starter’

·        Eight in 10 cider drinkers aged under 30 drank five or more standard drinks in a single sitting the previous year

·        One in three regular cider drinkers had consumed more than 11 standard drinks in a single sitting the previous year

·        Regular cider drinkers are also more likely to drink at a greater number and range of social events than non-cider drinkers.

·        Most cider drinkers would consider switching to a low-alcohol option.

So, why are cider manufacturers yet to take advantage of the opportunity to produce a low—alcohol cider to meet consumer demand?

Our survey shows there is clearly a market for a low-alcohol option. In fact, 79 per cent of cider drinkers said they would consider buying cider with less than 3.5 per cent alcohol per volume. However, unlike beer, no lower strength option is widely available.

There is a great opportunity for cider manufacturers to consider this gap in a growing market, and to demonstrate corporate responsibility to assist with reducing the toll of alcohol-related harm in the community.

Cider Australia responded to this research with a press release distancing their fruit-based products from flavoured ciders, which are considered alcopops, saying clearer labelling was needed. While they stated that the majority of cider sold in Australia is 4.5% and below, we would like to see their response to our specific call for a product classified as ‘low-alcohol’, which is 3.5% or less. Our research has found that such a low-strength product is not widely available on the market.

See the full survey on Attitudes of Australian cider drinkers.

Jerril Rechter

Jerril Rechter is the CEO of the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. She is a World Health Organisation Advisor and a board member of the International Network of Health Promotion Foundations. Jerril holds a Master of Business Leadership from RMIT University.

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