The British cider industry has "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make Britain to cider what France is to wine", the new chair of the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) told a gathering of MPs and industry figures at the Houses of Parliament earlier this month.
Pointing to a 26 per cent rise in UK exports since 2009, Paul Bartlett said: "I am very excited about the cider opportunity, with strong growth in many overseas markets, particularly the USA, Canada, Australia and South Africa."
He continued: "I am delighted to help lead the NACM at such a promising period in the development of our industry."
But Bartlett urged politicians to show "consistency" on duty to maintain growth in the home market, explaining that thanks to a recent steady level of duty: "Our investment and innovation led to the market for cider doubling in four years and Government revenues doubled as a result".
He added: "Cider has outperformed every sector of the drinks market for several years, through a relentless focus on innovation and quality, funded by significant long-term investment in new cider orchards and capital equipment."
But he warned: "Policy decisions taken without consultation, as we have seen with minimum unit pricing, create unrest and uncertainty. This threatens our raw material supply and therefore our cider-making future."
He called for Government cooperation in the areas of social responsibility and sustainability, saying: "We are the most sustainable drinks industry and one of the most sustainable of any industry in the UK" - as well as one that supports rural communities, he added.
But he pointed out that the industry suffers from small scale, a long investment cycle and vulnerability to changing weather patterns.
"Four successive poor summers and the increasing incidence of extreme weather have really buffeted our industry," said Bartlett.
Cider industry body Changes at the top
Paul Bartlett has worked in the cider industry for 10 years, in marketing roles for major producers, and is currently group marketing director at C&C Group, which owns the Magners and Gaymers brands. He will now dedicate a couple of days a week to his new role with the National Association of Cider Makers.
Bartlett said of his predecessor, Henry Chevallier Guild of Suffolk cider maker Aspall: "He has served our industry exceptionally well and set a high standard."