Cider makers welcomed more than 250 guests to their Orchard Walk and Technical Day which returned for the first time in three years. The event provides a unique opportunity for the cider industry to thank those who work so hard growing apples for them and to celebrate the importance of British grown cider apples.
The event was opened by James Crampton, National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) Chair and Corporate Affairs Director at HEINEKEN UK. He thanked Tom Powell and the Foxley Estate at Mansell Lacey, Herefordshire, for hosting the event and welcoming such a large group of growers to his orchards.
James went on to explain that “Growing cider apples is at the heart of the cider industry and Great British ciders are a part of the heritage and traditions of our rural communities. Cider makers and apple growers have worked in partnership for decades, creating a platform that supports farming, employment, biodiversity, tourism and of course cider making.“
However, there was also some caution from the cider industry, due to the unprecedented challenges from Brexit, Covid and more recently escalating costs especially around energy and fuel. In addition, long term decline of the cider market has recently accelerated, and the apple cider market fell by nearly 20% in the last two years as the hospitality sector was impacted by Covid lockdowns.
James further highlighted HM Treasury proposals to reform alcohol duty, planned for introduction in February 2023 and asked cider apple growers to join the NACM and cider industry in continued talks with local MPs about their concerns. Impacts on the cider industry will be significant for cider leaving beer and spirits mainly unchanged. Cider will see a significant increase in excise duty rates, adding red tape and complexity to HMRC paperwork, all ciders over 4.6% ABV will see an increase in excise duty, with some seeing increases as high as 40%. The most traditional ciders will be hit the hardest, especially those around 6% to 7% ABV. Two thirds of cider makers will be negatively impacted.
Following the opening remarks, guests were invited to walk around the orchards, where a number of technical talks gave more detail into how the orchards are managed on the estate, as well as tips for improving biodiversity. The morning ended with an opportunity to visit a number of trade stands highlighting latest developments in orcharding and harvesting equipment and supplies