Martin Thatcher of Thatchers: Keeping the cider category fresh

Martin Thatcher (pictured), managing director and fourth-generation cidermaker at Thatchers Cider, urges wholesalers to take account of significant market changes.

How are you looking to strengthen your relationships with cash & carries and delivered wholesalers?

As our brands gain national recognition throughout the UK across all sectors, wholesale is playing an increasingly important part in our sales strategy. Within the convenience channel, for example, we’ve seen growth of over 98% during the last 12 months; in fact, we’ve seen 116% growth in the latest 12-week period with our brands gaining significant national distribution.

As we grow, we are investing in our field sales team to strengthen our relationship with our customers in the cash & carry and wholesale sector. By working closely with them, understanding their business, and guiding them through the cider market, we can help them make considered buying decisions in line with market demand.

We really feel it’s important to support our customers so our field sales team are visiting depots and retailers to drive brand awareness and visibility in store with stand-out PoS.

What are the key trends in the cider market and do you find that wholesalers act on these?

Ciders from family cider makers like ourselves, where the focus is firmly on quality and taste, are increasingly important. Where shoppers are looking for great-tasting cider in their impulse buys, weekly shop, or pubs or restaurants, they turn to brands that they know will provide what they’re asking for. In particular when a brand such as Thatchers is front of mind because it has been seen on TV and in the cinema, we know it will be in demand.

In the past few years, fruit ciders have been driving growth; however, we have seen this sub-sector go into decline in the latest 12 weeks, and it only accounts for 16% of the cider sales within the convenience sector. Apple ciders, such as those produced here at Myrtle Farm, play a vitally important part (76% of the market), with traditional premium ciders and cloudy ciders now leading the charge here.

Within cloudy cider, Thatchers Haze is growing at 264.4% versus a year ago. Haze is consistently outperforming the competition and is now the No.1 cloudy cider in both volume and value MAT. Look out for Thatchers Haze cans in a 10-pack, coming soon.

The word craft is on everyone’s lips, and here we’re delighted that our new cider, Barrel Roller, has quickly become the No.2 craft apple cider in 330ml cans.

How dependent on warm weather are sales of your drinks?

Cider has traditionally been a long, refreshing drink for the warmer weather, and there’s no doubt that sales are strong during the summer. However, it is an increasingly all-year-round drink – in the 12 weeks ending 25 February 2017, total cider accounted for over £220 million worth of retail sales. The week leading up to Christmas 2016 had the largest weekly sales of the entire year, valued at over £5 million more than the second largest week.

How can cash & carries and delivered wholesalers improve their cider sales?

Our advice is always to look at the ciders that are selling well, review your range and reselect according to the ciders that are in demand in today’s market and that you know will work for you and your customers.

Cans, particularly larger packs like 10 x 440ml Thatchers Gold, are important to any cider range, but ensure that you have a range of traditional premium ciders in bottles too.

Traditional premium ciders such as Thatchers Vintage sit within the fastest growing cider category – growing at 43.9%. This category is dominated by apple cider, making up 97.5% of traditional premium cider value sales.

Are there any cash & carries or delivered wholesalers you wish to highlight as being particularly progressive?

It’s encouraging to see that a number of operators are now starting to use category data to make strong recommendations to their retail customers as to what should be in their range. With the category having changed so much in the last three years, providing the right advice on range ensures sales are maximised both for wholesaler and retailer.

Are you making any investments that will benefit the trade over the coming months?

We are continually investing here at Myrtle Farm in Sandford, Somerset. Most recently we have unveiled our own canning line, meaning that all our cidermaking and packaging is carried out here. Investing in new products is a focus for us to ensure our customers have ciders that meet market demand. This year we have introduced two new ciders in cans – Barrel Roller and Leaf Twister. We’ve also just released new packaging for our single variety cider Katy.

Tel: Thatchers Cider (01934) 822862

Published Date: November 15, 2017
Category: Meet the Manufacturer