- Molson Coors Brewing is expanding its cider portfolio through the purchase of Aspall Cyder, the beer maker said in a statement.
- Aspall's portfolio will strengthen Molson Coors’ position in the fast-growing market for premium cider in the UK. It also gives the beer maker access to Aspall's leading specialty vinegars made using a unique fermentation process.
- The cider maker, founded in 1728 by Clement Chevallier, is currently operated by the eighth generation of his family. They will remain part of the business and play a key role in shaping the strategic direction of Aspall. "There is a real opportunity to elevate and grow the status of English cyder in the UK and abroad both as a beverage and as an excellent partner for food," Henry Chevallier Guild said. "We believe that Molson Coors investment will provide the catalyst to grow Aspall and build the recognition for quality cider worldwide.”
For Molson Coors, the deal allows it to add beverages to its portfolio that could help boost its bottom line, provide more visibility and grow its market share. One catalyst behind the deal likely involved declining beer sales. For its third quarter, Molson Coors posted sales of $2.88 billion, a 2.1% decline, compared with $2.94 billion for the same period a year earlier. Income fell 4% to $289.7 million versus $300.3 million.
In recent years, a growing number of consumers have gravitated toward craft brews or spirits and mixed drinks instead of beer. In an effort to keep serving what consumers want, Molson Coors turned its attention to cider and drinking vinegar. Volume of cider sales at Aspall grew by 10% in 2016 with the cider market in the UK increasing by more than 25% between 2010 and 2015. The segment will continue that growth through 2020, according to data from Nielsen.
Molson Coors says it with help Aspall grow in the UK and establish a leading presence for the brand in markets around the world.
"We’re now looking forward to helping Aspall become the number one premium cyder in the UK and building on the huge potential of the Aspall vinegars, as part of an ongoing strategy to premiumise our portfolio,” Phil Whitehead, managing director of Molson Coors UK & Ireland, said in a statement.
Molson Coors is not the only beer maker to look outside its comfort zone to help stem the decline in beer sales. In recent years, Anheuser-Busch added a hard cider to its line of drinks with Johnny Appleseed Hard Apple Cider, while The Boston Beer Company announced last fall an Angry Orchard pear cider that is a blend of both apples and pears. And Constellation Brands took a 9.9% minority stake in Canopy Growth Corporation, a Canadian marijuana company in October. The $191 million deal will allow the alcoholic beverage giant and Canopy to develop cannabis-infused beverages and "stay ahead of evolving consumer trends."
Molson Coors is likely looking to trendier beverages to help boost its growth and compensate for falling interest in its signature beverage, a problem common among the major beer companies. The company, by using its global manufacturing and distribution network to grow Aspall's premium products, also may give its own finances a little more buzz.