By ditching plastic rings for its best-selling can packs for Thatchers Gold, Haze, Rosé and Cloudy Lemon ciders, family cider maker Thatchers saved 20 million plastic rings from being used in 2020 alone.
And now the Somerset cider maker is able to strengthen its commitment to the environment even further with PEFC certification for the cardboard packaging that replaces the plastic rings.
This certification means that Thatchers is able to guarantee all its consumer cardboard product packaging has been sourced sustainably.
The introduction of its ground-breaking duo-wing for its 4-can packs back in 2016 was an amazing piece of the sustainability journey for Thatchers. It now estimates over 100 tonnes of plastic has been saved during this time thanks to the initiative.
The PEFC mark also appears on Thatchers ten can packs. FSC certified board is used for mail order boxes and retail bottle display trays.
Supply Chain Director for Thatchers, Gary Delafield comments, “Working with supplier Westrock to ensure our packaging is made with PEFC certified board is an important part of our sustainability commitment. We are always looking to actively do the right thing across our cider making and packaging, and the PEFC certification assures our retail customers and consumers that our cardboard is sourced sustainably throughout the supply chain.
“We recognise the critical role that forests play in the protection of the global environment in alleviating climate change. Indeed, as a cider maker reliant on trees to grow the apples we need to produce our ciders, we have over 500 acres of our own orchard in Somerset.
“Our retail customers trust us to lead the way in sustainable packaging, and our consumers have confidence in us that care of the world around us is part of who we are. We were one of the first British cider makers to replace plastic rings with recyclable cardboard packs, and now we are able to demonstrate full confidence throughout their supply chain with PEFC certification.”
Thatchers has worked with its packaging supplier Westrock to secure the certification. PEFC is a global chain of custody certificate that tracks wood from sustainable sources, through the supply chain to final product. Over 320 million hectares of forest globally are PEFC certified.
As a family business Thatchers is constantly thinking about what it can do to protect the environment and cut carbon. New lighter weight cans save 70 tons of aluminium each year and its glass bottles contain up to 77% recycled glass. Furthermore, its new warehouse in Somerset is home to solar panels that saved some 75,000 kg of CO2 in 2020 – that’s the equivalent of planting 3,500 trees. The energy is harnessed to power heating at the cider mill.
Sandford Orchards, one of the fastest growing challenger brands in the cider industry, has bucked the business trend during the pandemic by investing £1.2 million into expanding its bottling and canning capabilities and developing and implementing a new branding strategy. Sandford Orchards, whose ethos is to produce the best tasting cider ‘done right’ is now well placed to meet an increased demand for real cider driven by a strong consumer interest in authenticity and quality.
Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker comments: “Whilst other businesses have retrenched during the last twelve months we have taken the opportunity to press forward with our expansion plans buoyed by an ever-growing number of consumers who are looking for an antidote to the standard commercial cider brands.”
Barny explains: “ At the end of 2019, we made the strategic decision to invest heavily in a full rebrand and we appointed award-winning branding agency Kingdom & Sparrow and market research agency Branding Express, who conducted focus groups across the UK. Blind tastings showed that consumers unanimously agreed that our cider tasted delicious, more natural and flavourful than mainstream alternatives. Our research also confirmed that there was a great opportunity for us as our ciders are far higher quality than the cheap mass produced ciders available but more accessible than the pricey craft options. This gave us the confidence to continue to invest in 2020 with the implementation of the rebrand and an expansion of our packaging capability to include setting up our own canning line for the first time.”
Barny elaborates: “At the beginning of the first lockdown our usual canning business became too busy to provide us with the capacity that we needed. We knew that canned cider offered us a huge potential market, as it is not well served by quality craft ciders, so we took the plunge and invested in our own in-house canning line which delivers 3,500 cans of cider per hour. In the same period we also purchased brand new state of the art bottling machinery to allow us to meet the growing demand for our products and match our ambitious projections. This has tripled our bottling rate to an impressive 6000 bottles an hour. Alongside this, we have also increased automation in our kegging line thus ensuring that we control the whole process from orchard to glass and have the ability to meet future demands.”
Barny continues: “We believe that we make the best tasting cider and we are proud to do it properly taking a fresh, natural, low impact approach and using the best apples in the world. With our new branding and expanded capacity we are starting 2021 in a strong position to meet the needs of our fast growing fan base as well as those consumers wanting to trade up to something more authentic and better tasting. We make simply great cider and we are optimistic that 2021 will be a simply great year for us.”
Founded in 2002, independent, family-owned Sandford Orchards is based in Mid Devon in the oldest working cider mill in the UK. They press and ferment whole juice from the finest locally grown bittersweet apples and age it to perfection to create beautifully balanced and naturally refreshing cider.
Sandford Orchards’ range of ciders includes session ciders and a selection of flavoured ciders which will soon be joined by some brand new vintage ciders due to be launched in March.
For further information on Sandford Orchards please visit www.sandfordorchards.co.uk
email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01363 777 822.
Follow Sandford Orchards on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
In its ongoing support of the world around us – and of course its passion for apple trees – Thatchers Cider would like to help community groups and charities plant more trees this spring. So the Somerset cider maker is offering ten community groups the chance to receive ten apple trees each, ready for planting in their own community orchards or local environments.
So if you are part of a group that is planting trees this spring, simply let Thatchers know about your organisation, your orchard, and what planting trees means to you. Then on 18th February 2021 Thatchers will select the ten communities who’ll receive these very special apple trees.
“During these very difficult times, we’ve all come to appreciate even more the benefits of outdoor space,” says Martin Thatcher, fourth generation cider maker. “For those in towns and cities a community orchard can make such a difference to people’s well-being; in health and care environments small orchards too can provide respite and tranquillity throughout the year.”
Thatchers has over 500 acres of its own orchards in the West Country, that lock up approximately 182 tonnes of carbon each year.
Thatchers’ orchards are not just the source of raw ingredients for cider though. They are a haven for wildlife and an important contributor to the local ecosystem. Insects and invertebrates, birds, bats, pheasant, deer rabbits and hares to name but a few. And of course bees are vital to the health of our trees. With hives throughout our orchards, honey bees help us ensure effective pollination at blossom time.
Community groups wishing to be considered for the chance to receive ten trees from Thatchers Cider, should email email@example.com explaining about your community and why planting trees is important to you. Or visit Thatchers Facebook page.
Terms and Conditions
To comply with legislation there are a number of things you must do before you start selling your cider in the UK*. NACM has put together a brief guide which leads you to the information and forms you may need to become registered. The guide can be downloaded from the Cider Makers page of this website.
Please contact us if you would like further information.
* from 1 January 2021 there will be additional rules to sell in Northern Ireland
[Experiment set up by Catherine Chapman]
There are new updates, on the Apple Growers tab, about the progress of some of the apple research which is part funded by NACM via the Collaborative Training Partnership for Fruit Crop Research.
We have 2 new students this year:
Hayden Tempest studying “Radio-tagging earwigs to understand the breakdown in successful woolly apple aphid, Eriosoma lanigerum (Hausmann) control”
Marios Stamatiou studying “Managing living mulch (cover crops) to improve soil health (including nutrient cycling) and encourage natural enemies”
The full list of students and their studies are listed and if you would like further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
[Photo: Eleanor Thatcher, fifth generation cider maker, at the orchard in Christon]
The apples come from one of the West Country’s oldest, and most influential, orchards. With its ongoing research into apple varieties, Thatchers Cider is celebrating the work of the former National Fruit and Cider Institute with its new limited edition cider.
Thatchers has blended apples from one of Somerset’s oldest and most influential orchards for its new, limited edition Christon Single Orchard Cider.
The standard orchard in Christon, nestled at the foot of the Mendip Hills, was originally planted back in 1928, and is home to traditional apple varieties including Court Royal, Frederick and Stembridge Cluster.
The Christon orchard plays a very special part of cidermaking history. It was planted by cider pioneers at the National Fruit and Cider Institute at the Long Ashton Research Station in Bristol in the early days of cider research. It was these cider pioneers who really were the founding fathers of the modern cider industry, with their ground-breaking research into apple varieties and regional growing conditions. Their work on cider making techniques, including yeast selection, is still valued by cider makers today.
Fourth generation cider maker Thatchers has harvested the orchard – that is home to 25 different varieties of apple – four times throughout the season, ensuring each variety has been captured at its perfect ripeness. The apples were taken straight from the orchard to the mill, and pressed straight away, retaining all the individual characteristics of the fruit, and the orchard.
The fresh juice was cold fermented in Thatchers’ cider barn, carefully preserving the flavour and character of the fruit. Each small batch of juice has then been blended together before being matured in oak to create the robust and full flavoured cider.
The mix of apples blended into the new, unique Christon Single Orchard cider brings a depth and complexity to this cider. Just 10,000 bottles are being produced of the 8.4% abv, medium dry, full-bodied cider.
Richard Johnson, chief cidermaker at Thatchers, says,
“I love this traditional orchard at Christon which oozes character and tradition. There’s a real mix of heritage apples here, that we’ve blended into this really bold, full bodied cider, perfect for the onset of colder days and darker evenings when a smooth, warming cider is so welcome.”
By using apples from one single orchard, the cider makers at Thatchers recognise how the soil and climatic conditions have a huge influence on the fruit’s flavour and characteristics, just as the researchers at Long Ashton did back in the early 1900s. The Christon orchard is nestled on south facing slopes at the foot of Somerset’s Mendip Hills, with a red loam topsoil over a clay subsoil. The varieties harvested from Christon orchard also include Brown Snout, Yarlington Mill, Yellow Styre, and White Close Pippin.
Liz Copas, one of the UK’s leading pomologists and formerly of the Long Ashton Research Station has helped identify all the apples – and perry pears – in the Christon orchard.
She says, “This has to be one of the most influential orchards in modern British cider making. It’s a real privilege to have the chance to walk through these trees some of which are coming up to 100 years old. All cidermakers today owe much to the work that was carried out at Long Ashton Research Station, and Thatchers have captured that essence in a bottle with this new cider.”
With its forty acres of trial orchards, including its living library Exhibition Orchard, Thatchers is carrying on the Long Ashton tradition of research into apple varieties, growing conditions and their suitability for cider making. Its “100 Tree Trial” has seen 10,000 new trees of different apple varieties planted in Thatchers own hedgerow style, with all these varieties having either performed well in the Exhibition Orchard, or having a reputation for producing excellent cider.
Richard concludes, “Trialling different apple varieties and researching how they perform in varying cider styles is such an important part of our ability to innovate and create ciders for today’s shopper. At the same time, we are able to look back at the legacy of the Long Ashton Research Station and carry that on into our work today.”
Christon Single Orchard cider is part of the Thatchers Cider Barn range, and is available online and from the Thatchers Cider shop in Sandford, price £2.55 for 500ml.