Tony Webster/flickr

Apple cider, and its pear friend “perry,” are now the world’s fastest-growing alcoholic beverages, according to industry research firm Euromonitor.

The drinks are now forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of nine percent, Euromonitor’s Amin Alkhatib writes.

Euromonitor

The key, he says, has been growth outside the beverages’ traditional U.K. epicenter, especially the U.S., where drinkers seeking gluten-free alternatives, as well as women, are driving the market. U.S. annual sales growth now stands at 63 percent.

There are also now dozens of ciderfests throughout the country.

Euromonitor

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“The US market is key to growth in global sales, following the double-digit growth rates it witnessed over the 2009-2014 period, and is expected to continue seeing in the next five years,” he says. “Cider/perry consumption in the U.S. will also grow to levels that are bound to equal consumption in the U.K.”

It also helps that sales are starting from nothing, so there’s lots of room to expand, he says.

Cider has also been the beneficiary of the same factors that have helped drive craft beer sales, he says: drinkers are looking for higher-quality alternatives to traditional brewers. The latter have noticed: Anheuser-Busch added Stella Artois Cidre and Johnny Appleseed, while MillerCoors created Smith and Forge.

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The U.S. leader remains Boston Beer Co., who’s Angry Orchard maintains 60 percent of volume share.

There is no sign any of these trends will let up, so all producers stand to benefit, he says.

“Industry experts believe that re-education is happening with cider. Gluten free will continue to be an important driver of the category in the coming years,” he says. “According to the American Medical Association, the number one diagnosed condition in 2012 was gluten intolerance. There is also a perception that the sweeter taste of cider, with a similar alcohol level to beer, will appeal to women and drinkers seeking novelty.”

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Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.