Pictured: Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, Chair of APPCG and David Sheppy, Chair of NACM

Newly elected chair of the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM), David Sheppy, called for a freeze in excise duty until at least 2025 in his inaugural speech at the All-Party-Parliamentary Cider reception in Westminster this week.

More than 120 cider makers, MPs and those connected to the cider industry gathered to celebrate the importance of the most traditional of UK drinks. Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, chair of the APPCG, opened the event, reminding those present of the importance of cider making across many rural communities.

While the event was an opportunity to celebrate British cider makers, there was a serious note at times, with calls on the government to commit to no further excise duty increases for at least 18 months following the damaging effects of the recent 10.1% duty increase alongside the Alcohol Duty Reform changes targeting the most traditional ciders.

David explained how challenging it is at the moment for cider makers. “The last few years have been tough for cider makers. The market has been struggling and at times it has really felt as though the government has lost focus on the valuable contribution that the traditions of cider making bring to our rural economies. A 10.1% increase in excise duty; duty reforms that penalise our most traditional ciders; complicated systems that have been rushed through; increasing levels of red tape for both cider makers and farmers. The list is endless and personally I have been very frustrated and concerned that the finest, traditional ciders and family businesses are being negatively impacted”.

He called on MPs to support the cider industry, which supports more than 11,000 jobs, 16,000 acres of orchards and is worth £2.95 billion and by far the largest globally, playing an important role across rural economies in Herefordshire, across South West and beyond, cider makers attract more than 1 million tourists each year, contributing to their rural economies and supporting communities.

Highlighting industry concerns that yet another excise duty related consultation was due, David asked for support as the government begins the lengthy process of reviewing the definition of cider. “In the past those responsible for excise duty made a point of coming to see us and learn more about the cider category.” He said “we appreciate that the last few years have made that more difficult, but all of us here tonight would like to see us to return to that level of interest in cider making.”

As a sixth generation cider maker, from a cider making family spanning more than 200 years, David acknowledged how far the industry has come in that time, taking great leaps in technology, whilst also keeping with the traditions important to the heritage of cider making. He concluded that with the right support the cider industry can be optimistic for our future and for the great ciders that will be made by generations to come.