American Cider Association’s Michelle McGrath on Creativity and Innovation in Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the cider industry.

With the loss of tasting room and on-premise sales, members of the American Cider Association have been forced to pivot to curbside sales, virtual tastings and bundles sold through e-commerce, ACA executive director Michelle McGrath explained during a video interview with Brewbound reporter Jessica Infante.

“Obviously, we’ve seen changes in folks’ channel mixes,” she said. “How it’s panned out is there’s been an uptick in off-premise sales as people are stocking for quarantine lifestyle.”

Off-premise dollar sales of cider declined slightly in 2019 according to market research firm Nielsen. But those negative trends have reversed as consumers stocked up, with dollar sales increasing 22% compared to the same time last year.

Other cider makers have turned to curbside pickup and drive-thru services. Hudsonville, Michigan-based Farmhaus Cider hosted a drive-thru pop-up event, which led to the company’s best-ever sales day, McGrath said.

“They were able to cover payroll for the month with one stock-up drive-thru market in Grand Rapids,” she said.

Consumers are also turning to e-commerce platforms to purchase alcoholic beverages, including cider, which some producers have found success with, McGrath said. Others are promoting online sales tied to virtual tasting events in which cider makers discuss their products as consumers sample them at home.

In recent weeks, sales of ACA enthusiast memberships, created for consumers interested in cider, have increased as cider drinkers look for ways to support the industry, McGrath said.

“The grassroots cider community, the drinkers, they’re pretty special people,” she said.

Look for additional videos on how the beer industry is adapting to the novel coronavirus on in the coming days and weeks.

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