Bottom Line: Suffering ciders

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The Independent Online
PRODUCERS of standard and private-label ciders have a severe headache coming on. A price war has broken out, particularly in the take-home trade. Taunton Cider's share price, which had already underperformed the market by 25 per cent since July's preliminary figures, fell 20p yesterday on its interim figures to a 13-month low of 167p.

The big task facing Taunton is to neutralise the staggering growth in economy price ciders. In just a year they have increased their share of the take-home market from 15 per cent to 25 per cent.

Meanwhile, volume sales of private-label brands, supplied by the likes of Taunton to big supermarket groups, have plunged by 13 per cent. Premium ciders, however, continued to appeal to the discerning palate and Taunton lifted sales here by 7 per cent.

Taunton produced a solid underlying 11 per cent pre-tax profit rise to pounds 11m in the first half and raised its dividend by 10 per cent. But with a price war raging the shares will remain hungover for some time yet.