Industry prepares for Climate Change

October 23 2008

Richard Heathcote, chair of the National Association of Cider Makers sustainable development committee.

A major report on the effects of climate change on the UK cider industry has just been published aimed at helping producers and growers prepare and adapt to the challenges that will come.

Conducted by a panel of cider industry experts, advised by specialist outside organisations, the Climate Change Adaptation Study takes an in-depth look at the many and varied impacts of climate change and how they will influence the industry in the future, considers the risks, and looks at opportunities that will arise.*

It is the second of three important studies1 undertaken to put the industry in the best possible position to meet, and where possible, benefit from the changes which are now seen as inevitable.

‘It is recognised that there will be other socio-economic changes over the next 30 years - explored in detail in the parallel “Cider Futures” project – so while considering all relevant aspects, the Climate Change study focussed on orchards, production, physical assets and market place,’ said Richard Heathcote, chair of the National Association of Cider Makers sustainable development committee.

Looking out over the next 30 years the panel’s four key findings are that:

  • A range of new intervention, varieties and techniques will be required to maintain healthy productive orchards, and more thought should be given to siting of orchards to minimise risk from extreme weather events 
  • Utility costs are likely to rise as requirements for cooling of plant increase and become more widespread against a backdrop of rising electricity and water prices. 
  • Risks to physical assets will increase, including flood risk and transport to/from risks and companies should seek to address these in good time via business continuity planning; 
  • There are opportunities of different styles of cider as ‘café culture’ and warmer weather produce more ‘al fresco’ usage occasions.

‘It is now clear that we are all going to have to adapt to a changing climate in the coming years and the cider industry wanted to be a position to give the best possible information and advice to individual members so they can prepare themselves now for the future’, said Richard Heathcote, chair of the NACM sustainable development committee.

The study highlighted a number of specific issues of concern to the cider industry

  • The growing season is expected to continue to lengthen, but soil moisture levels in the summer and autumn are expected to decrease. 
  • The number of very hot summer days is expected to increase. 
  • The number of very cold winter days is expected to decrease. 
  • Heavier winter precipitation is expected to become more frequent. 
  • Winter storms and mild, wet and windy winter weather are expected to become more frequent 
  • Global Sea level will continue to rise with extreme sea levels being experienced more frequently

‘The study has shown that there are a number of critical areas for UK cider which will be affected by climate change.  Whilst the exact rate and exact implications of the projected climate parameters cannot be known, as an industry we are now aware of the direction and in this report have explored risk, opportunities and adaptations we can consider’ said Richard. 

He said some of the implications of climate change are site specific while others are industry wide. 

‘It is therefore, it is up to individual companies to decide what type of action to take for themselves, and for the NACM to consider over the next few years what interventions might be made for the industry as a whole.  This could include, for example, forecasting, advice, strengthening networks, research, information sharing or awareness raising activities,’ he said.

* If you would like to obtain the full report please contact Nick Bradstock, of the NACM Sustainable Development Committee on

1Carbon Evaluation

The first study was on Carbon Evaluation the UK Cider industry and this work was undertaken between October 2007 and January 2008.

‘The scope of the project was deliberately limited to manufacturing and primary distribution operations,’ said Richard Heathcote, chair of the NACM Sustainable Development committee.

‘The intention was to quickly and cheaply establish an approximate carbon ‘footprint’ for the whole industry, in a way which would be reproducible into the future. This would enable us to set a benchmark and then reduction targets. This work is now underway,’ he said.

A carbon ‘footprint’ is a way of measuring the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of a product or company or, in this case, an industry. The answer is given as tonnes of carbon dioxide, but included all GHGs. For example, methane is 23 times more harmful as a GHG than CO2 - fortunately, there is not as much of it.

Said Richard; ‘The exercise has established that there is a linear relationship between CO2 produced and volume of cider produced. This relationship allows us to predict, with reasonable accuracy, the emissions associated with any volume of cider made.

‘Using this relationship, we have established that the industry ‘footprint’ is approximately 68,500 tonnes each year.’

Richard said the report also considered use of water, and broke the CO2 emissions into electrical and thermal energy.

‘The next step will be to see how best practice can be applied and shared, so that the whole industry works together to reduce our overall emissions.’ 



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