Significant growth over the past five years has resulted in cider's popularity equalling that of lager, with the apple-based drink becoming more popular with young drinkers, according to a new report by consumer analyst Mintel. The new research found that 10 years ago, 42% of Britons said they were cider drinkers, this has now grown to 47%, against 46% of adults, who said they were lager drinkers. Although cider is growing in popularity, lager consumption is still more than four times higher. Cider sales rose from £1.7bn in 2006 to £2.4bn in 2011. In the same period, sales of lager fell from £13.6bn to £11.4bn. In terms of actual sales, the report said that beer has seen the most dramatic decline, losing £2.2bn in revenue between 2006 and 2011 mainly due to the dramatic decline of the pub sector. Meanwhile, wine has seen a drop in the proportion of drinkers from 66% in 2007 to 58% in 2011. Mintel said that the cider sector has potential for “much more growth”, forecasting volume sales to increase by 12% between 2011 and 2016 and value sales by 33%. A poll of more than 680 people by Mintel found that 58% said cider was more refreshing than lager. Nearly half (49%) said cider had a fresher taste while 44% preferred its sweeter taste, 27% drink it for a change and one in five claimed it’s less gassy. Mintel’s senior drinks analyst Jonny Forsyth said: “Cider has been particularly successful at attracting younger drinkers from the ailing lager category, as well as from alcopops and wine due to a combination of impressive innovation and marketing nous. “This is in a highly challenging context for alcohol, but cider has had the advantage of a lower tax than borne by many competitors which it has invested wisely – especially in constant innovation.” Forsyth said that cider had seen particularly steep growth in off-trade over the past five years, experiencing a 67% increase in volume sales and doubling its revenues between 2006 and 2011. Cider’s share of supermarket shelf space has grown exponentially and in 2010 accounted for 40.7%of UK cider volume sales.