Producers demand stability to boost business growth
CIDER boss Martin Thatcher has sent a strong message to MPs and government following his appointment as chairman of the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM).
In his debut keynote address at a Westminster reception he promised producers would deliver a greater contribution to UK coffers if government policy recognised the long-term planning and commitments of cider producers.
Martin, director of Thatchers, which produces Thatchers Gold, Green Goblin, Thatchers Vintage and Old Rascal, said duty stability was essential for enabling greater investment in the industry.
He said: “Freezing the duty on cider and scrapping the duty escalator in the spring was great news, though the benefit will be short-lived if government fails to recognise that the investment decisions we make tie us to commitments that last decades.
We’re unlike any other UK industry or any other drinks industry around the world.
“When we talk to growers and farmers about planting new orchards we are asking them to accept no income for a couple of years and to wait seven years for a full crop, weather permitting.
“They will only contemplate doing that if we guarantee to buy their apples for 25 years and if we can convince them that we will continue to invest to increase consumer appeal with a broader and innovative range of great ciders that people want to buy.
“Cider has a bright future – the fact that cider makers and growers are prepared to make that commitment is testament to their confidence – with support from government we can deliver that potential and do more to support the rural communities we are part of.”
British cider makers use a total of 250,000 tonnes of UK-grown apples every year which are harvested from 17,300 acres of orchards, according to the NACM.
The parliamentary reception was jointly hosted by the Parliamentary Cider Group and National Association of Cider Makers.
Politicians heard cider makers are committed to increasing the size of their orchards by 10% in the next few years.
Martin added: “In cider we have a very special, British success story.
“We’re unlike any other UK industry or indeed any other drinks industry around the world. The large number of small, independent producers here in the UK stands us apart and is something for us all to be proud of.
“Recognition of how and why we are different and the great contribution we make in terms of rural employment and creating fabulous natural habitats for wildlife is vital if we are to continue to make the contribution we do – that is why taking our message directly to Westminster is really important.”