The National Association of Cider Makers has this week petitioned Number 10 Downing Street, urging the Government to rethink measures currently proposed in the Alcohol Duty Review.
In a letter to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered yesterday (Tuesday 8 March) by Sir Bill Wiggin MP and leading members of the cider industry, the NACM said Treasury proposals would disproportionately impact the most traditional ciders.
With many ciders set to see duty increases of up to 40%, the letter calls for the basic rate of excise duty to be adjusted so that no cider below 5.6% ABV sees an increase.
The move would protect the heritage of cider making and “reduce the number of ciders impacted significantly by measures proposed in the Duty Review, with minimal impact on government revenue”, the letter says.
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, cider makers are calling for greater support to encourage innovation.
The letter explains that fruit ciders should be recognised as an important part of the category, be clearly defined and treated fairly. Current duty rules see these ciders taxed as made-wine despite being made using the same apples and on the same sites as apple ciders.
Later in the day, cider industry leaders later gathered in Westminster alongside a wide number of MPs to celebrate the contribution of cider to the economy and rural life.
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 that rely on them.
With 11,500 direct and indirect jobs reliant on the industry and more than half a million tourists visiting cider makers each year, the cider industry is vital to rural communities.
Sir Bill Wiggin MP, Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire, said:
“It was excellent to see so many cider makers 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 that we ensure the proposed duty changes support this great industry.”
Fenella Tyler, Chief Executive, National Association of Cider Makers, said:
“Cider makers 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.”
James Crampton, Chair, National Association of Cider Makers, 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.”