The cider revival has hit the RTD market where it hurts - but perhaps not as badly as many commentators would make out. Overall the market lost £31.1 million - 12 per cent - making it worth £221.1 million at the end of 2006. But that loss is less than half of cider's £77.1 million gain.
At the end of 2005 seven of the top 10 RTD brands were declining or stagnant. This year five are showing growth - and four of them the sort of growth many in the more stable wine and beer markets would be delighted with.
WKD - the only brand to keep up a solid advertising campaign - has finally made it into first place, with 11 per cent sales growth, while rival Smirnoff Ice lost 17 per cent of sales as well as top spot.
Bacardi Breezer Half Sugar, launched in 2005, grew 126 per cent; Greenalls Gin & Tonic climbed from 10th to sixth place with 83 per cent growth ; Caribbean Twist had a stable year with 3 per cent growth ; and Gordons & Tonic in a can nudged into the top 10 with 15 per cent growth.
But star performers of RTDs' heyday saw fortunes dwindle. For example, Bacardi Breezer lost 24 per cent of its sales and Re ef lost 48 per cent.
Top 10 RTDs
Brand Supplier Sales £m % Change
1 WKD Beverage Brands 56.4 11
2 Smirnoff Ice Diageo 47.0 -17
3 Bacardi Breezer Bacardi-Martini 31.0 -24
4 Bacardi Breezer Half Sugar Bacardi-Martini 11.4 126
5 Red Square Halewood International 11.2 -28
6 Greenalls Gin & Tonic Greenalls 7.4 83
7 Caribbean Twist Halewood International 6.6 3
8 Archers Aqua Diageo 6.3 -55
9 Reef Coors 6.1 -48
10 Gordon's & Tonic Diageo 4.0 15
Nielsen MAT to Dec 30 2006, GB off-trade
Bacardi Breezer Half Sugar
You have to hand it to Bacardi-Martini. The declining RTD market is hardly associated with healthy living - that's one of the reasons cider, with its more natural marketing cues, is stealing its market share. And yet Bacardi Breezer Half Sugar has breezed into the top five with a massive 126 per cent sales surge on the back of a healthier, thinner image - while its full-sugar sibling lost 24 per cent of its sales. If more suppliers take a leaf out of Bacardi's book, could they stand up to cider's over-ice onslaught?