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.
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
It was two years in the making, but now Thatchers Zero, the Somerset cider maker’s first alcohol-free cider, has been named Best No and Low Cider in the UK by industry magazine Imbibe.
Thatchers Zero was unveiled in January 2020 after a long development journey, and only when the cider maker was 100% happy with the cider’s taste, depth and appearance. By using a unique production process, Thatchers has been able to create an alcohol-free cider that doesn’t compromise on quality – and offers the premium experience people are looking for when enjoying a Thatchers cider.
Thatchers Zero is full of appley aromas and crisp refreshment. With a beautifully bright, golden appearance, crisp, medium dry taste, and fruity aroma, it is crafted using a selection of Thatchers favourite bittersweet apple varieties, creating a 0.0% cider with body, smoothness and character.
The Imbibe No and Low Taste Awards were launched to reflect the quality and range of products in what has become a significant sector of the drinks industry in recent times – one that has grown during lockdown and is predicted to continue to grow in the years to come.
Like all other ciders in its range, Thatchers Zero is gluten free and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Thatchers Zero is available in high street retailers including Sainsbury’s and Co-Op, RRP £1.85. It is also available from specialist retailers including Dry Drinker and Wise Bartender, and from Thatchers www.thatcherscider.co.uk
It’s exciting times at Dunkertons Organic cider as they celebrate new international award wins and a complete packaging refresh, just in time for what is hopefully a glorious British Summer.
Dunkertons began in 1980 with the pioneering spirit and vision of their founders, Ivor & Susie Dunkerton. Their vision was to craft organic ciders in harmony with the environment to support the natural eco-system and were the first UK cidery to be certified organic as a grower & producer with the Soil Association. They only use whole pressed organic apples or pears and mature their ciders in single VATs similar to winemaking, for over 12 months, resulting in all their ciders or perry containing over 90% juice. Their ciders and perry are world renowned for their famous ‘deep flavour’.
Lee Holdstock, Trade Relations Manager for the Soil Association commented, “It’s been a pleasure certifying Dunkertons for over 20 years, and it’s great to see them facing the future with the same pioneering spirit that has shaped everything they do. By growing organically for so long, without chemical pesticides or herbicides, the orchards that provide Dunkertons’ apples will have been contributing to better soil health, cleaner air and higher levels of insect life. In fact, organic farms have 50% more wildlife than non-organic. Shoppers are increasingly interested in where their drinks come from, both in terms of the provenance of the cider and terroir. On both these counts, organic production delivers high quality ciders for drinkers to enjoy, just as Dunkerton’s has been doing for over two decades.”
The new packaging includes embossed labels, tactile inks, gold foils and the addition of neck labels plus the addition of new cyclops tasting notes and food pairing on the back labels. Dunkertons are confident the new presentation of their premium organic ciders and perry will genuinely appeal to today’s discerning cider drinkers.
Dunkertons are also launching a new deep flavoured 5% ABV Craft cider in a 500ml bottle and a 330ml can which is the first in the can format for the cider company. The organic Craft cider was developed over a few years to ensure the ‘deep flavour’ was captured and they are confident that the new format and lower ABV will make Dunkertons even more appealing to a wider range of discerning cider drinkers.
Continuing their pioneering spirit Dunkertons are also going to be the first cider company to include a scale for sweetness, acidity and tannins on their packaging, all of which help deliver the flavour of the cider. Most ciders just distinguish between sweet and dry but this doesn’t give the drinker a full understanding of the complex flavours within each cider. Dunkertons have also included a food pairing for each cider to drive awareness of cider as a great accompaniment with food.
The packaging launch follows on from a triumphant start to the year for Dunkertons with Black Fox winning Gold for Best in Class and second place in the Traditional Dry Cider category, with Organic Dry and Organic Perry winning bronze at the 2019 Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition (GLINTCAP). Meanwhile in the International Cider Challenge 2019 Breakwell Seedling won a gold medal.
Co-owner Julian Dunkerton commented, “2019 will be another milestone in the history of Dunkertons Organic Cider Company. Our organic ciders and perry have a very strong following but we knew the brand presentation required a complete refresh and that we needed a lower ABV cider in the range to appeal to a wider range of today’s discerning cider drinkers. The new packaging looks fantastic and each label reflects the individual characteristics of the deep flavour that all our ciders are renowned for. Launching these straight off the back of our award wins sees us entering another exciting chapter in the Dunkertons story”.