East Anglia: All in it together

Related tags East anglia Apple

Suffolk is a very rural, close-to-the-land sort of place which has heavily influenced the way we at Aspall have chosen to continue to run our...

Suffolk is a very rural, close-to-the-land sort of place which has heavily influenced the way we at Aspall have chosen to continue to run our business.

To many people the area seems rather cut-off from civilisation but what they haven't perhaps considered is that beyond the dreaded A12 exists a plethora of rich networks and close communities which are fundamental to our businesses here.

Sustainiability vision​My grandmother Perronelle was a founding member of the Soil Association and it was largely her vision of sustainability that shaped our ethos today.

In the current climate it would be all-too-easy to buy in apple juice from abroad at a considerably lower price, however maintaining our credentials and reputation for quality means this would never be an option for us.

All of our apples are sourced from East Anglia and during recent apple shortages our strong relationships with local growers stood us in good stead. About five years ago we realised that fruit from our own 90-acre organic orchards would be insufficient to meet the increasing demand for our cider, and secured a sustainable supply for the future by investing in local Bramley growers' organic certification.

This will ensure the continued quality of our ciders, which are all made from 100 per cent fresh-pressed English apple juice. And there'd be no point cheating anyway - our cider differs to West Coast cider in that our particular blends use a higher proportion of culinary fruit.

Since taking over Aspall from our father in 2000 we have looked to local business relationships for advice, inspiration and support.

When we were planning the relaunch of Aspall Suffolk Cyder in the late 1990s, it was John Murphy from nearby St Peter's Brewery who discouraged us from bottling it in a beer bottle and suggested we used the original Aspall flute-shaped bottle. Who knows, without this essential advice things could have turned out very differently.

Other important contacts are our local distribution partners Adnams and Greene King, which have both advised us on the growing pains of turning a small brand into a slightly larger one, and Earl Soham Brewery, which encouraged us to produce our cider in draught in 2003.

National brain, local roots​Growing the business considerably over the last two years has meant we've had to adopt a national brain while keeping to our local roots.

Ensuring that we never lose sight of the fact that Suffolk is our heartland will show our customers they're dealing with something very different; that they're getting a bit of a special experience.

But we believe this local ethos of dealing with your neighbour and supporting each-other should apply anywhere in the country, not just East Anglia, as it is this that creates communities and a sense of identity. At Aspall we believe that getting it right locally is fundamental to our success on a wider scale. n

Henry Chevallier Guild is co-director of Aspall

Related topics Cider Other operators

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