Cider, the apple of Distell’s eye

Cider, the apple of Distell’s eye

STELLENBOSCH-based liquor group Distell – traditionally a bastion of top wine and spirits brands – is now a kingpin in the cider market. In the year to end June, Distell’s cider and ready-to-drink (RTD) brands – which include the best selling Savanna and Hunters - delivered another strong performance with double-digit growth – a stark contrast to the mixed results achieved by the company’s wine and spirit brands.

In South Africa, the broader RTD category (including the best selling cider brands) saw revenue up a sprightly 19% to R5,2bn off a 12,6% increase in volumes to 265 million litres. Wine sales were up a more pedestrian 5,6% to R3bn, and spirits sales were restricted to a 2,2% to R4,1bn.

In Africa the picture looks even more promising for Distell’s ciders and RTD brands. RTD sales in Africa were up a strong 24% to R938m, making it the biggest revenue generator for Distell in Africa. Wine sales in Africa were only up 2,6%, while spirits rose a marginal 0,3%.

In a presentation, Distell’s outgoing CEO Jan Scannell said both Hunter’s and Savanna were able to maintain an already strong growth momentum thanks to highly successful communications campaigns that was augmented by on going pack innovations. He pointed out that Hunter’s not only outperformed the fruit alcoholic beverages (FAB) category, but its growth contrasted dramatically with the premium beer category’s virtually flat year-on-year growth.

Scannell added that Hunter’s new 440ml can offering was very well received by the market, while Savanna’s performance was boosted by the launch of 500ml bottle and 330ml can formats. Scannel noted Distell had upped production capacity to supply increased demand for ciders. Scannell said the extraordinary growth of the RTD market had necessitated incremental investment in this area to meet the greater demand for ciders.

“Over the past year, we have expanded our cider production capacity at our primary production plant in Paarl, and our bottling facilities at our secondary production site in Springs.”

He also hinted at a global push into the cider market. “Distell intends to full capitalise on our strengths in the global cider market.”

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