Cider industry leaders gathered in Westminster alongside a wide number of MPs to celebrate the contribution of cider to the economy and rural life yesterday (Tuesday 8 March), and to hand number 10 a letter, penned by NACM, stating current Treasury proposals would disproportionately impact traditional ciders.
Sir Bill Wiggin MP for North Herefordshire and leading members of the cider industry said: “It was excellent to see so many cidermakers 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 we ensure the proposed duty changes support this great industry.”
The current measures proposed in the Alcohol Duty Review would see duty increases of up to 40% for many cidermakers and, in its letter, NACM called for the basic rate of excise duty to be adjusted so no cider below 5.6% ABV sees an increase.
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, according to the association, cidermakers are calling for greater support.
NACM chief executive Fenella Tyler said: “Cidermakers 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.”
The changes proposed by NACM would “reduce the number of ciders impacted significantly by measures proposed in the Duty Review, with minimal impact on Government revenue”, according to the associations letter.
Heart of rural life
Also detailed in the letter was a call for fruit ciders to be recognised as an important part of the category due to current duty rules seeing them taxed as made-wine, despite using the same apples and on the same sites as apple ciders.
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 which rely on them, with 11,500 jobs reliant on the industry and more than half a million tourists visiting cidermakers each year, according to NACM.
NACM chair James Crampton 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.”