In their submission to the Treasury ahead of the Spring Budget, the NACM has asked for special consideration to be given to cider. Gordon Johncox, chair of the NACM explains “Cider has been in decline since 2009 and the impacts are being felt across the industry and cider supply chain. Around 1,000 acres of cider apple orchards have been lost in the last year as the need for cider apples falls in line with the market. The pressure is being felt across the South West, Herefordshire and other cider making regions, impacting investment and innovation.” The standard cider category is now just 5.4% of the total drinks market, significantly smaller than it was a decade ago whilst in the same period changes to excise duty have resulted in the tax on cider moving closer to other categories.
“We need a 2p per pint reduction in excise duty, which will help return the cider category to growth, supporting rural employment, farming and tourism. It is also time that the broader structure for cider excise duty is reviewed. It is patently unfair that fruit ciders are treated as wine rather than cider. We are asking that a definition is put in place so that these ciders are recognised and better protected to support innovation and growth across the category.” Gordon explains. “In addition, the case for more support for small cider makers continues to grow. Currently these small scale operators represent over 90% of cider makers, but less than 3% of category volume. We are asking the Treasury to introduce a progressive cider duty that would support growth and innovation and create more jobs. We need consultation across the cider industry to ensure that this can be achieved in a way that encourages growth whilst continuing to protect the smallest cider makers who currently rely on the 70Hl duty relief”.
The NACM has explained to the Treasury that the current concerns around post Brexit impacts on the cider industry, continue to create more uncertainty for the industry, especially around export and supply chain issues Cider makers create rural jobs, invest in their communities and encourage over half a million tourists to visit each year. Gordon concludes “Cider really is a Great British success story and we ask that it is given more support to encourage growth, innovation and success. We hope that we will be raising a glass of cider to the Chancellor on 11th March”.
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.
The NACM is the UK cider industry representative body, working on behalf of large and small producers:
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We are very grateful that the Chancellor has announced that cider duty will again be frozen in today’s Budget. UK cider makers are under tremendous pressure and whilst we had asked for a reduction in duty, we are pleased that he has listened to our concerns and ensured that the current level of decline does not deteriorate further. The new duty rate for the mid-strength duty band, for ciders between 6.9% and 7.5% ABV of £50.71, introduced from 1st February 2019, will result in an increase of more than 10p per litre bottle. An increase that will impact a large number of cider makers across the UK of all sizes and something that they are disappointed about. Gordon Johncox, chair of the National Association of Cider Makers commented “Great British ciders are a part of rural tradition in many parts of the UK and by freezing cider duty today, the Chancellor has given support to our great industry. Whilst the Chancellor has been very fair in freezing cider duty, we are still concerned for those cider makers inadvertently impacted by the new mid-strength duty band.”