A cider maker is hoping to take inspiration from the world of beer to boost his sales. Enda Mullen reports
The rise of the microbrewery has shown the way to greater success for a Warwickshire cider maker – who is looking as far afield as Thailand for potential sales.
Allen Hogan, who founded Hogan’s Cider seven years ago, said the explosion in demand for cask-conditioned ale has demonstrated the cider industry could achieve similar success with more traditional product.
The company, which is based near Alcester, has recently diversified its range with the launch of three “bag-in-box” ciders that are flat and cloudy rather than carbonated and clear.
As part of its continued expansion Hogan’s is looking to increase its exporting activities. It currently exports to the US and is in the process of setting up deals to export to both Hong Kong and Thailand.
Speaking about the company’s new direction, Mr Hogan said: “We spotted a bit of a gap in the market. There has been a real trend among drinkers for real ales and cask ales have seen fantastic growth.
“There’s also been a resurgence in smaller brewers producing genuine cask ales with around 70-80 starting up each year. Now there are probably about 700 in the UK. On the back of that we are seeing a real interest in cloudy cider.”
The new range – Hazy Daisy, Picker’s Passion and Panking Pole – will be available in pubs, along with the company’s existing draught cider, though if it proves a hit Mr Hogan hopes to make a version available in shops where its bottled cider is currently sold.
Hogan’s supplies both Waitrose and Tesco, along with smaller farm shops and delicatessens with bottled cider, while its draught product is supplied to around 150 pubs nationwide through partnerships with local brewers.
In the Midlands it works with brewer Purity, which distributes its cider to around 50 pubs, while in Suffolk it has a partnership with Adnams.
Mr Hogan, who enjoyed a successful career in the IT industry before deciding to turn his hobby into a business venture, said the firm has grown substantially since it was founded and was now turning over more than £500,000 annually.
Its draught product currently accounts for around 70 per cent of business with bottled product around 25 per cent, though Mr Hogan said he expects the bag-in-box product to make up 25 per cent of its business a year from now.
“Last year was our fastest year of growth, revenues increased by 50 per cent to March 2012, prior to that we were enjoying 30 to 40 per cent growth,” he said.
“But we have to be careful as we can only make it once a year. We have to have made enough cider to fuel any anticipated growth.