Cider Makers from across the country gathered in the Palace of Westminster this week to celebrate the importance of cider making and apple growing to the UK. Hosted jointly by the All-Party Parliamentary Cider Group (APPCG) and the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) the evening welcomed more than 120 guests including MPs and those connected to the cider industry.
Sir Bill Wiggin MP (President of APPCG) opened the event, explaining why cider is of great importance to the UK and thanking the MPs that continue to support this great British industry. NACM Chair, James Crampton followed, calling for guests to celebrate cider making and the importance of the apple.
James, who is Corporate Affairs Director at Heineken UK, spoke of the importance of cider-making in Britain and the need for future growth within the industry. He explained that the heartland of the industry is in a relatively small geographic area where cider makers contribute a huge amount to the rural economy through employment and farming.
He explained ‘While the years of Covid and the current economic situation have left our industry in a more fragile state, with the right support, we know we can continue to invest in our growth, contribute to local economies and delight the cider drinker.’
James shared how cider makers welcome millions of visitors to farms and cider making facilities, which helps to stimulate tourism in cider counties and drive greater awareness. He explained ‘This helps inform opportunities for greater export and worldwide recognition for this great British flagship drink. I believe building the profile of British cider beyond our shores is something we can work further on when our market is stable and more robust.’
Comparing the traditions and heritage of cider that go back centuries to the modern marketplace, he highlighted the wide range of ciders present at the event, and how all types of cider are welcomed, from the most robust, high tannin ciders, to the lightly acidic, softer ciders, from newer flavoured ciders to traditional classics. As he reminded everyone present that the basis for all of these starts in exactly the same way, with the humble apple.
The mood was celebratory as guests were encouraged to pledge their support, to raise their glasses and toast the creativity and innovation of the cider-making industry.
Gordon Johncox, the chair of the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) and the chief executive of Aston Manor Cider, addressed MPs, government officials and industry figures to outline a British success story in need of support.
Gordon outlined how collaboration across the industry by cider makers of all scales is a positive feature, though the hard-pressed sector still needs support from government.
As a relatively small industry, representing the best interests of every cider maker informs all aspects of activity of the NACM. The vision of the association is that all producers can operate successfully and fairly in a competitive market, whilst continuing to support their communities, employees and apple growers.
To enable this, he called for a balanced regulatory environment for cider makers reflecting the unique circumstances of producers. In particular, MPs, Ministers and officials were urged to deliver a consistent application of regulations.
Gordon challenged the Government’s willingness to understand the specific situations of cider makers. While headlines from the Autumn budget stated that cider duty was frozen, ciders in the middle duty band received a 25% tax increase, impacting many small cider makers.
Following his speech, Gordon commented: “Cider businesses of all sizes are working hard to deliver a sustainable future for the benefit of consumers and the rural environment. The industry is a significant part of British heritage.
“We need the support of politicians to work with us to return cider to more positive results, remove red tape and the unnecessary rules that limit innovation and investment. This support can enable cider makers produce fantastic products that interest in our category.
“We work to see every cider maker flourish and grow in line with their ambitions, whilst maintaining the highest standards. We firmly believe that with our collaborative nature and how we support one another this can be achieved when we can rely on consistent and sensible legislation.
“In recent months we have seen members providing orcharding experts when others experience weather related problems, large companies have supported smaller producers to expand their packaging ranges. When something is challenging or if advice is needed, small producers will always be supported, and to me, this is why the UK cider industry is so very special.”
The Parliamentary Cider Group Reception was an opportunity to showcase the best of British cider, which is home to the largest cider market in the world. The evening was attended by cider makers from across the South West, Midlands and further afield, as well as many MPs that represent cider making regions within their constituencies.
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Gordon Johncox, the chief executive of Aston Manor Cider, has been named as the new chair of the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM).
Addressing members of the NACM and attendees at the All Party Parliamentary Cider Group (APPCG) on Tuesday 11 September, Gordon outlined his vision to ensure a sustainable future for producers, whatever their scale.
He called for a fair and balanced regulatory environment for cider makers to operate in and asked for the support from MPs, Ministers and officials to back the UK industry – home to the largest cider market in the world.
Gordon promoted the need for a collaborative approach and all involved to give the industry the best opportunity to flourish.
Speaking about becoming chair, Gordon commented: “I’ve enjoyed a significant amount of my career in the cider industry and a great part of my life living in the cider heartland, so I am relishing the opportunity to lead the industry.
“No matter the size of the cider maker, everyone is committed to apples and agriculture – that is the most important message I want to get across. The industry is facing a number of complex challenges, but through a united approach we can certainly deliver a future that is innovative and sustainable.
“We need an excise duty structure that allows producers to grow, a robust examination of evidence in all policy issues and of course, cider makers to have the common goal to celebrate this diverse industry that provides for ever consumer and occasion – here in the UK and across the world.”
Fenella Tyler, the chief executive of the NACM, spoke about the appointment: “Gordon has been the deputy chair for two years and has already made a significant contribution. We expect he will continue to do great work to advance the interests of all cider markets for the benefit of all cider drinkers.”
Before joining Aston Manor Cider, Gordon was previously the managing director at Magners GB. He will be the chair of the NACM for two years and has replaced Helen Thomas of Westons Cider.