MPs joined thousands of cider enthusiasts around the world this week to raise a glass in celebration of cider. As the largest global cider market, UK cider makers shared a wide range of different types of ciders in celebrate of this annual event. Representing the counties of Herefordshire, Somerset, Devon and beyond, ciders were displayed in various bar locations within the Palace of Westminster for the first week of June, recognising how World Cider Day has grown from humble beginnings, to an event that is celebrated in markets globally, from beaches in Australia to bars in the US, with cider makers in South Africa, Japan and across Europe holding special events to celebrate this important date in their calendar.
MPs were invited to sample traditional ciders that have been at the heart of the industry for decades, alongside newer innovations including a selection of low alcohol ciders that are gaining significance in the UK marketplace. A range of bag-in-box ciders were on display, showing the importance of the still cider category to the hospitality sector and the range of locally sourced ciders reflected the importance of cider apple orchards in the UK.
Mark Hopper, Public Affairs Director of the National Association of Cider Makers commented that “The traditions of cider making go back centuries in the UK, with roots firmly in rural communities, it is of great importance for farming and employment in these areas. Bringing together MPs to sample such a wonderfully diverse range of ciders, reflecting the importance of the category and the wide range of flavours that can be created from a simple apple is something to celebrate.”
Sir Bill Wiggin MP, Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire, said, “I am delighted to celebrate World Cider Day with a glass of cider and offer colleagues within the Houses of Parliament a chance to sample the fabulous and wide-ranging ciders made by Great British cider makers.”
UK cider industry leaders gathered in Westminster on 24 May to recognise the MPs who champion cider companies, the people who work for them, the farmers growing cider apples and the rural communities that benefit from the Great British cider industry.
The event organised by the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM), was hosted by Sir Bill Wiggin MP, President of the All-Party Parliamentary Cider Group (APPCG).
MPs from cider growing areas including the West Midlands and South West were recognised for their long standing commitment to the industry. Cider Makers from across the regions presented MPs with a personalised gift box including a selection of British ciders and a commemorative cider glass.
Speaking at the event, James Crampton, Chair of the NACM commented that “the MPs who were recognised this evening go above and beyond to ensure that our small, rural industry is recognised for its great contribution to the UK and to British culture. It was great to finally gather people together after a gap of more than two years, to say thank you for their support and for making sure that cider making and cider apple growing remain a priority for the government. The continued support of these MPs is critical to sustain the livelihoods of the 11,500 people that rely on the industry”.
Sir Bill Wiggin MP, Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire, said, “it is always a delight to represent and promote Great British cider makers and the fantastic ciders that they produce.
“Cider making contributes to our rural counties including Herefordshire and as the UK are global market leaders we should be proud to support this fantastic British success story.”
Members of Parliament Recognised
Sir Bill Wiggin MP, North Herefordshire
Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, Bridgwater & West Somerset
Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP, Hereford & South Herefordshire
Harriett Baldwin MP, West Worcestershire
Rt Hon Mel Stride MP, Central Devon
Rebecca Pow MP, Taunton Deane
John Penrose MP, Weston-super-Mare
Cider Makers presenting Awards
James Crampton, Chair of the NACM and Corporate Affairs Director at Heineken UK
Helen Thomas, Managing Director at Westons Cider
Martin Thatcher, Managing Director at Thatchers Cider
Barny Butterfield, Owner at Sandford Orchards
Geoff Thompson and his daughter Eliza Thompson, Owner at Oldfields Cider
David and Louisa Sheppy, Managing Director at Sheppy’s Cider
Photo from left to right: David Sheppy (Sheppy’s Cider), Martin Thatcher (Thatchers Cider), Fenella Tyler (Chief Executive NACM), Sir Bill Wiggin MP, James Crampton (Heineken), Helen Thomas (Westons Cider)
The National Association of Cider Makers has petitioned Number 10 Downing Street, urging the Government to rethink measures currently proposed in the Alcohol Duty Review.
In a letter to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered Tuesday 8 March by Sir Bill Wiggin MP and leading members of the cider industry, the NACM said Treasury proposals would disproportionately impact the most traditional ciders.
With many ciders set to see duty increases of up to 40%, the letter calls for the basic rate of excise duty to be adjusted so that no cider below 5.6% ABV sees an increase.
The move would protect the heritage of cider making and “reduce the number of ciders impacted significantly by measures proposed in the Duty Review, with minimal impact on government revenue”, the letter says.
At a time when the cider industry faces significant pressure, having declined 44% in 12 years, and now accounting for only 4.6% of the alcohol market, cider makers are calling for greater support to encourage innovation.
The letter explains that fruit ciders should be recognised as an important part of the category, be clearly defined and treated fairly. Current duty rules see these ciders taxed as made-wine despite being made using the same apples and on the same sites as apple ciders.
Later in the day, cider industry leaders later gathered in Westminster alongside a wide number of MPs to celebrate the contribution of cider to the economy and rural life.
Sir Bill Wiggin MP signs I Support British Cider
Cider making is an integral part of British heritage and without the industry, 16,500 acres of apple orchards and 35% of all UK-grown apples would be at risk, as would the communities that rely on them.
With 11,500 direct and indirect jobs reliant on the industry and more than half a million tourists visiting cider makers each year, the cider industry is vital to rural communities.
Sir Bill Wiggin MP, Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire, said:
“It was excellent to see so many cider makers gathered together to promote this great industry. I am very aware of the importance of cider making to our rural counties, as Herefordshire has more cider apple orchards than any other county in the UK. It is very important that we ensure the proposed duty changes support this great industry.”
Fenella Tyler, Chief Executive, National Association of Cider Makers, said:
“Cider makers play an important role in their local communities, supporting employment and tourism. Cider apple orchards are economically important to farmers, but also support a wealth of biodiversity and create stunning scenery for visitors to our counties. At a time when cider is facing some of the toughest market conditions ever experienced, we need to see the Government supporting us, our employees, farmers and the communities where we are based.”
James Crampton, Chair, National Association of Cider Makers, said:
“British cider is at the heart of rural life and carries significant cultural heritage. I was delighted to see such wonderful support for our iconic industry among Parliamentarians and urge the Government to listen to our concerns for the future of this great British industry.”