Cider Culture Blossoms in the Middle East: Tapping into Growing Markets and Pairing Potential

  • Nov. 14, 2023
Cider Culture Blossoms in the Middle East: Tapping into Growing Markets and Pairing Potential

From its modest beginnings, cider has developed into one of the drink industry's fastest-growing segments. As Soha Frem, founder of WATA cider, notes, there is still a good chance that cider will make a lasting impression in the Middle East, even though there is still a long way to go.

Middle Eastern cider

The Middle East has historically consumed very little cider, although in recent years, demand has increased. The Middle East and Africa Cider Market Research Report, published by Actual Market Research, projects that the market will reach a valuation of USD 800 million by 2028. Numerous factors, such as a younger population that enjoys trying new things, an increase in foreign brands entering the market, a shift in consumer preferences towards lighter, fruitier alcoholic beverages, a rise in the demand for healthier and gluten-free options, and the growing potential of cider and food pairing, can be attributed to this growth. Still, travellers are the primary cider drinkers in the Middle East. Considering its diverse population and booming hotel industry, the United Arab Emirates maintains its position as the largest market for imported ciders. Despite lacking domestic cider manufacturing, the UAE acts as a gateway for foreign cider firms looking to access the market.

Cider culture is growing in Lebanon along with local cider production. Three local cider brands have been introduced in just the last five years alone. These have been brought about by a number of factors, such as the need to address the apple crisis and the dearth of competitive export markets, the Lebanese economic crisis, the established local wine and spirits industry, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Lebanese people, and the desire to keep up with global trends.

While Lebanese ciders have shown their popularity in the global cider scene, with exports to a number of upscale European countries, the local market needs encouragement in the areas of education, awareness-building, and the development of a cider-related culture.

Choosing the finest cider

Cider has several uses. Because cider and wine share similar sensory qualities, there are some similarities between the approaches of tasting both. Similar to wine, the fruit plays a crucial role in determining the final quality of the cider. Because of this, it's crucial to know if the cider was made using concentrate or freshly pressed apples before focusing on its characteristics.

The following characteristics are important to consider when choosing a cider, and it should also meet your customers' expectations:

Cider varies in colour and clarity from light yellow to deep red. Although most consumers prefer their cider clear, meaning it has been filtered, it can also be slightly cloudy, which can enhance its structure.

Aroma: It can be difficult to get over the scent of some ciders, even though they taste excellent if their aromas are off.

The secret to a superb cider's flavour and texture is striking a balance between its acidity, sweetness, phenolics, and fruitiness. The chosen apple types are mostly responsible for these qualities.

The terroir refers to the characteristics of the cider, the setting in which the cidery is located, and the farming methods used in the orchard.

Cider combination

A well-executed cider-food match enhances the dining experience for customers. As a result, it is crucial to remember the four Cs:

Complement: matching tart with tart, sweet with sweet, and so forth. In terms of texture, complementary flavours can also include nutty and rich or light and crisp.

Contrast: this means using tannic cider to add some structure to an overly buttery dish or matching dense veggies with a sparkling cider.

Cut: One of cider's strongest qualities is its ability to cut through fatty, rich dishes. Crisp, dry ciders will aid to elevate flavours and cleanse the palette. Therefore, cider pairs incredibly well with charcuterie and cheeses, as well as comfort foods like pizza and burgers.

Complete: The cider selection should highlight the flavour of the meal and make it whole.

International cider manufacturers and beverage firms have made considerable investments in the MENA region's markets with the goal of capitalising on the market's growth potential and introducing new products that are customised to the region's tastes and preferences. Because of the growing popularity of flavoured and artisan ciders, healthier options, and lower alcohol options, the cider sector continues to have significant development potential. However, in order to make a significant impact on the market, both domestic and foreign cider makers should put more money into educating local populations rather than only the expat community. This will allow them to create experiences that can eventually become deeply ingrained in the cultures in which they operate. To put it succinctly, cider can regain its market share by highlighting tradition, promoting exploration, and supporting sustainability.