In today’s blog post we’re going to cover the fastest growing hard cider companies in the United States, but before we do, we’d like to suggest you try the best hard cider producer in Michigan – Blake’s Hard Cider. We promise you won’t be disappointed (smiles).
The hard cider market continues to expand at a rate multiple times greater than all other alcoholic beverages. According to Inc.com, industry revenue is projected at $310 million dollars (2015 – 2016) at a 38.8% growth rate. Although these numbers reflect alcoholic and non-alcoholic production, increasing demand for hard cider drives the majority of growth in this sector.
As it stands, there is no designated organization nor association for cider producers to track this sector of the market the way craft beer sales are tracked by the Brewers Association, the trade organization representing craft brewers across the country.
($208.1 dollars in sales – 56.8% market share)
Sitting at the top spot in regards to revenue dollars and market share, Angry Orchard, owned and operated by the Boston Beer Company, Inc., which makes Samuel Adams beer, accounts for more than half of all hard cider sales in America.
Initially, Woodchuck was the market leader for nearly a decade until the Boston Beer Company decided to try their hand at hard cider themselves following a growing trend. Within 2 years they took over the #1 spot in market share and, for all intents and purposes, left Woodchuck in the dust. They accomplished this feat largely because of the success of the Samuel Adam’s beer line and the relationships they developed with various distributors and small markets nationwide.
In other words, they had a track record of making all participants in selling their Sam Adams beer a profit, thus, partners immediately jumped on board based on trust and confidence their new, unproven offering, Angry Orchard, would be a hit as well. And it was. Not necessarily because the product was a better hard cider, but mostly because of the national push and prime location advantage on store shelves.
This certainly doesn’t take away from the Boston Beer Co. contribution. On the contrary. We recognize that the increased interest in hard cider is largely in part because of them. Though Woodchuck did a good job pioneering, Angry Orchard got people talking, and that is in large part why we saw an opportunity to enter the hard cider market to fulfill the new demand for different ciders, mostly craft. Our hats goes off to Angry Orchard.
Core Ciders include Crisp Apple, Green Apple, Stone Dry and Hop’n Mad Apple. Seasonals include Cinnful Apple and Summer Honey.
($38.3 dollars in sales – 10.5% market share)
America’s second best selling hard cider, Woodchuck, launched in 1991.
It all began with a small group of apple wine makers fiddling around with their recipe, cut the alcohol content in half to 5% (from 12), and started bottling the new, unproven stuff in test batches. And it worked. They dominated the hard cider market for the next 20 years unchallenged owning over 90%+ of the market share. These were the happy times for Woodchuck until the ‘unthinkable’ happened.
Boston Beer Co., Anheauser-Busch InBev, MillerCoors and Heineken all jumped into the market determined to take their share of the market. The one who came out on top of the major brands was the Boston Beer Co. with Angry Orchard. Not only did they come out on top, they led the hard cider market in sales revenue and growth dethroning Woodchuck from the top spot to a distant second.
If it weren’t for the innovative practices from Woodchuck, there would be no hard cider market to speak of. They lead the charge in an unproven market since prohibition revitalizing it back to health. Blake’s Hard Cider gives credit where credit is due, now move out the way Woodchuck, we’re coming to take over.
Woodchuck core ciders include their popular Amber, Raspberry, Granny Smith and Gumption. Seasons include Summer Time, Fall Harvest and Winter Chill.
Johnny Appleseed Cider
($20.7 dollars in sales – 5.6% market share)
Johnny Appleseed, owned by Anheuser-Busch, began it’s journey in 2011 during the research and development phase. In 2014 they released their only flagship hard cider to date to a full, 360 degree marketing campaign, aptly named Johnny Appleseed.
With double and triple digit sales percentages in the hard cider industry it’s no wonder they jumped on this cider train.
Eli Aguilera, A-B’s director of high-end products, said “More than 750 consumers in the core target group for Johnny Appleseed — 21- to 34-year-olds — helped in developing the product, which has the “sweetness and notes of apples, but also has the apple’s bite,”
According to their company websites description, “Johnny Appleseed is a refreshingly sweet and intense hard apple cider. It’s best enjoyed on the rocks, among good friends. Inspired by a legendary adventurer and storyteller, Johnny Appleseed Hard Apple Cider was created for anyone with a story to tell. So whenever friends gather to share a drink, a tale, or a night out, raise a glass of Johnny Appleseed Hard Apple Cider — to the hundreds of stories waiting to be told. Coming in April to a bar near you.”
Smith and Forge
($19.6 dollars in sales – 5.3% market share)
Not one to miss a party, MillerCoors jumped into the fray with their Smith and Forge hard cider drink selection. “Nobody wants to miss out on something that is growing that fast,” says Eric Shepard, executive editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights.
Unlike their competitors who target both the male and female demographic, MillerCoors ‘Smith and Forge’ hard cider brand unapologetically targets the male audience to demystify hard ciders perception for being primarily a ‘sugary-sweet girly drink’ into a drink for men, by men.
In other words, Smith and Forge is making it cool again to drink hard cider like when our country’s founding fathers George Washington and Abraham Lincoln drank the ‘hard stuff’ religiously. They’re injecting a little testosterone into the mix to make it appealing to the younger, male audience.
“Guys continue to look for variety and different options, including cider,” said Rita Patel, director of new product development at MillerCoors. But existing brands have steered a “little bit too cute,” or their taste profiles are too sweet for men, she added.
Apparently, it’s working like a charm. A 5% market takeover is quite significant in a growing drinking section of the market.
Blakes Hard Cider Co.
Coming in at number 5 with an honorable mention is Michigan’s very own hard cider poster child, Blake’s Hard Cider.
In 2014, the projected number of gallons of hard cider produced was 50,000. A modest number, that is until actual figures came out to 65,000 gallons produced. Andrew Blake humbly commented, “We were lucky to come in at the right time. We’ve been working hard over the last year to explore all of the things cider can be; we want to be Michigan’s first and premier craft cider,” Andrew Blake said. “We think (hard cider) can go the route that craft beer did. We’re really excited about it and really grateful for the opportunity.”
Our success didn’t happen overnight. The Blake’s family farm has been in operation since 1911. Andrew Blake himself, a young whipper snapper, began experimenting with hard cider in his own garage while studying the business side for a year and a half before making the pitch to his father, Paul, and uncle, Pete, to open a hard cider production line to help carry over the farm during lean years and unexpected droughts for year round revenue.
Turns out it became more than the we planned or imagined and it’s become a full-fledged business operation in and of itself. It became an extra revenue stream putting Blake’s further on the map, employing more Michigan residents and putting more smiles on drinkers faces.
We are proud to be at the forefront of this movement in the great apple state of Michigan and look forward to consistently deliver the best cider drinking experience money can buy.
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If you’re around our neck of the woods stop on buy and say “Howdy” at 17985 Armada Center Rd. Armada, MI 48005, give us a call at 586-784-9463 or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or inquiries.
You can also visit us at Blake’s Hard Cider to learn more about our latest products and exciting upcoming events.