Aston Manor commits to ambitious growth programme

The UK's second largest cider maker, Aston Manor, has said it will continue an ambitious expansion programme.

A further £6m has been earmarked for expanding and upgrading production this year, following similar investment last year, finance director James Ellis told the Agrovista technical seminar.

The firm will also launch a graduate trainee scheme this year, while a planned 400ha of new planting by 2016 remains on track, he added.

On the cider market overall, he said: "Long-established brands are losing market share to new products and the rise of flavoured ciders. Overall, cider is static, which is better than beer."

Aston Manor joined the prime minister's trade delegation to China late last year. Ellis added: "We are keen to grow exports and I see bitter-sweet apples at the heart of that. They are what makes English cider what it is, and are not something the rest of the world has very much of. We should max out on the heritage of our product."

Meanwhile, Thatchers Cider has signed a new three-year contract with Lucozade Ribena Suntory that will see all the blackcurrants grown for Ribena in the UK pressed at Thatchers' Myrtle Farm mill in Somerset.

The new agreement continues Thatchers' partnership with the Japanese firm, which took over the brand at the start of this year.

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