Ease up on duty to arrest cider's decline, politicians told

Excise duty on cider must come down to arrest the decline in the drink's sales, National Association of Cider Makers chairman Helen Thomas told the All Party Parliamentary Cider Group (APPCG) at its annual reception in Parliament on 19 October.

Liddell-Grainger and Thomas - Image: HW
Liddell-Grainger and Thomas - Image: HW

Thomas, who is also managing director of H Weston & Sons, said that the last time she spoke at the reception, in June 2007, the industry was "buoyant" and in long-term growth, following an excise duty rate cut in 2002: "The mood then was full of hope for the future", she said, adding that this had stimulated expansion, better training, innovation, planting new orchards expanding mills and researching better orchard practice to increase yields.

The market was still "fragile" in 2007 when excise duty rose in line with inflation and volume growth was 17 per cent, but two years later the duty escalator was introduced, heralding a decline in the market for seven continuous years and leading to a loss of one-fifth of the market in all, during which time excise duty went up 16 per cent.

She said the 1.4bn pint-a-year industry employs 2,000 directly and 9,000 indirectly, and with the rise of premium and craft ciders the industry needs to "champion success stories, particularly when the UK economy and place in the world needs support".

APPCG chairman Ian Liddell-Grainger said: "We must keep the pressure on the Treasury and Government" on duty, adding that Brexit means "we are going to go through turbulent times".

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