Thomas, who previously held the position at the UK cider and perry industry’s governing body in 2007, will spend the next two years in the role where she will champion growth and tackle issues facing the cider sector.
Thomas, the 4th generation of the family to run the Westons Cider business, which was set up by Thomas’ great grandfather in 1880 and currently employs 230 staff, said the cider industry had ‘changed and developed dramatically’ since her last time as chair.
“In 2009 the duty escalator was introduced, which created a very challenging trading environment for cider producers,” she said.
“Excise duty has now increased by more than 16% and we therefore need support from the Government to turn this situation around.
“There are sub-sectors of the cider market which are in strong growth, such as traditional premium, super premium and craft cider. We will therefore be working hard to champion these sub-sectors to help bring long-term growth back to the category.”
Thomas described cider as a ‘familiar and important part of consumers’ drinking repertoires’.
“Almost half of UK consumers now drinking cider regularly, consuming over 1.4bn pints a year, however we need to introduce even more people to this exciting and vibrant category,” she added.
Speaking about Thomas’ appointment, Fenella Tyler, chief executive for the NACM, said: “Helen brings with her a vast amount of experience of living and working within the cider industry and her family has a great tradition of cider making.
"This makes Helen extremely well-equipped to deal with the challenges we are facing to help us bring long-term growth to the category.”