Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) brand Stella announced the move today – after a limited launch in May 2013 – against the backdrop of a US hard apple cider market growing 100% year-on-year.
At 4.5% ABV Stella Cidre will now be available in all 50 US states – in four packs of 12oz (355ml) bottles and single 24oz (710ml) bottles – and will also be available on draught in bars and restaurants nationwide.
“When we launched Stella Artois Cidre, we saw that the cider market in the U.S. was poised for continued growth,” said Chris Hanson, Stella Artois Cidre brand manager.
A crisp, European-style cider…
“White wine drinkers in particular have been drawn to Stella Artois Cidre. So, we have decided to expand the Stella Artois Cidre footprint both on shelves and on tap…”
Commenting on the nationwide launch, Mintel analyst Chris Wisson - who writes on the UK market and whose Cider, UK January 2014 report is now available, told BeverageDaily.com: "Flavored beers are growing in popularity in the US, aligning with the 'sweet tooth' of the consumer.
"So in that sense, I guess Cidre's success is unsurprising, particularly because they also made such a success of the brand in the UK," he added.
Stella is celebrating Cidre's nationwide launch at a party at the Sundance Film Festival on January 17 in Park City, Utah, and will be supported by a major media push and nationwide advertising.
Explaining how Stella Cidre differs from its competitors, the AB InBev brand stresses its status as a ‘crisp’ European-style cider made with apples hand-picked from wine-growing regions in the Americas.
Suitable for food pairing
“It is a sophisticated cider, drier than many of the sweet domestic brands that occupy American shelves,” Stella Artois insists.
Describing Stella Cidre’s taste as “crisp and complex”, the brand says its success in food pairing is one reason for its popularity, while the flavor holds particular appeal to white wine drinkers.
Mintel's Wisson said this ran contrary to the UK trend - where the drink won over mainly male drinkers of Stella Artois beer, who didn't like (or didn't think they liked) cider who "entered the market due to the security of the Stella brand".
Certainly Stella Cidre's positioning in the UK, and presence in cans (see above left) is different, and marks its attempt to attract mainstream beer drinkers.
"I would expect that the share of white wine drinkers who have recently come to cider and Stella Cidre is relatively low in the UK," Wisson added.
No.5 on the UK cider market
Stella Cidre is No.5 in the UK off trade with sales of £73m ($119m) but Wisson said its growth was "rather slow" in 2013 at only 3%.
"Perhaps this is expected given its rapid initial growth and a period of stabilization and modest growth is nothing to be concerned about," he added.
"Indeed, it should claim fourth spot soon if Magner's continues to struggle but the fact that Carlsberg (Somersby) and Carling (Carling British Cider) are now on board shows that this market is hotting up and becoming more competitive."
Given its US appeal to white wine drinkers, the brand recommends that consumers serve Stella Cidre in a white wine glass, and claims it pairs well with chicken, fish and cheeses including Camembert, English Cheddars and Gruyere.
“Stella Artois Cidre's tart profile also balances well with Asian and spicy foods and light salads,” the brand insists.