Heineken Russia CEO: COVID-Accelerated Consumer Trends Made Company Stronger Despite Pandemic

Heineken is known as a beer company. How much potential do you see in other products, such as cider? I’ve heard that it’s becoming big, especially here in the Russian market. Is there a big potential for this product?

Boudewijn Haarsma: This is a very fitting question, because today is World Cider Day – 3 June. So, it’s a good day to talk about cider – any day is a good day to talk about cider – but indeed, Heineken takes a lot of pride in brewing excellent beers, but has already for years been also looking beyond beer. We are actually the biggest cider producer in the world, with the leading brand Strongbow, and also in Russia we have invested in cider. Because cider as a product very much fits with consumer trends, and there is globally a need for natural, refreshing, and well-tasting beverages. And it’s a natural product that is brewed, so it is also a good fit with our breweries.

So in Russia, we are now the number one cider producer, we have a market share of just over 50 percent; but it’s still a very small segment – it’s half a percent in [terms of] the size of the total beer market. If you look beyond, in the home of cider in the UK, where cider is today 22 percent of the beer market; in Ireland, 16 percent; and if you look at more recent markets, South Africa, cider is already 10 percent; New Zealand, 10 percent; Canada, Spain, 5 and 3 percent – so, we do have a dream. We are also working towards that dream here in Russia. 

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