Cider is seen as a quintessentially British drink. After all, the UK boasts some of the largest cider-producing companies. But is it fulfilling its potential when it comes to exports?
That depends on who you speak to. The likes of Aspall, Westons and Thatchers have sold their wares to markets outside the UK for many years.
Having exported since 2008, Thatchers is now trying to expand its international profile. This year, it started working with distributor Sovereign, with a focus on growing its presence in North and South America.
This momentum is also gaining among smaller producers. Take Sandford Orchards in Devon, which is exporting its Devon Red and Devon Mist ciders to China, Japan, Europe, Russia and the US.
Chief cidermaker Barny Butterfield says he regularly reviews potential export markets and sees it “as a massive opportunity”.
But he believes more needs to be done. “UK cider has a huge export potential – the best makers in the world should be representing the UK globally,” he says.
Susanna Forbes, co-founder of Little Pomona Orchard & Cidery in Herefordshire, also wants to see more efforts.
“I live in the county making the most cider, but I think the trade needs to do more to promote UK ciders,” she says.
At the same time, British cidermakers could also do with a better appreciation of “the complex ciders being produced in France, the premium ciders coming from Germany and the beautiful ciders being developed in the States to see where its growth could happen”, she adds.
Cider expert Gabe Cook believes UK businesses need to acknowledge the “global boom in cider production” in new markets like South Africa, North America and Eastern Europe before they can take the global crown.
“Maybe there is more opportunity for UK cider because there’s more development of the cider category in these places,” Cook says.
On the other hand, there are more rivals in the field. “When UK cider started to export to the US there were just a handful of cidermakers – now there are over 1,000. It’s an incredibly exciting time, but makes me question how many export opportunities there are faced with such competition,” he sums up.
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