The expansion in the hard cider market cooled last year, with the industry growing just 10.8 percent — a far cry from the 71 percent reported in the prior period, according to market research firm Nielsen. But Andy Sietsema takes those national market trends with a grain of salt, largely because they don’t count craft cideries like Sietsema Cider LLC in their research. “Sales out of our place were up 23.5 percent through this fall,” he said, noting that he also hopes to add two new distribution markets in 2017. According to Sietsema, “constant education” remains a key factor in the industry’s continued growth, even if it’s at a more sustainable rate.
"Next year is going to be good. Nielsen says cider sales are down, but what’s off is Angry Orchard and the big boy’s sales, and they own 80 percent of the market. The reason the big boys are down, in my opinion, is because the consumer is getting educated and not drinking the sweet stuff. Everything craft is still up. Craft anything, and especially craft beer, is going to keep going up, especially because the economy’s looking great. People keep asking me if the market is going to get too saturated, but I don’t see anything stopping anytime soon. There’s a lot of new cideries that are still finding their way. It’s easy to go from zero to 1,000 gallons, but it’s really hard to go from 5,000 gallons to the 60,000-gallon mark. We’re right in the middle of the sweet spot. If we’re going full bore, we could do 55,000 to 60,000 gallons, but we’ll probably do 10,000 to 12,000 this year. I’ve got room to grow. I tell people not to let the national numbers scare them away. Things are going to slow down at some point. It’s still going up, but just will be slower growth. I’m very encouraged to see the consumers finally getting educated on what cider should be." - Andy Sietsema, Owner, Sietsema Cider LLC