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Sunday 20 April 2014

Cider sector sends message in a bottle

18th December, 2013 by Gabriel Savage

The National Association of Cider Makers has sent a customised bottle of cider to every UK Member of Parliament in a direct call to halt the duty escalator.

Cider Each of the 750 bottles carries a label saying: “Please remove the duty escalator. Support the cider industry.”

The move comes after UK Chancellor George Osbourne cut duty on beer in the 2013 Budget but left the annual 2% increase in place for cider, along with wine and spirits.

At the time, critics noted that whereas UK beer sales were in decline and comprised a significant percentage of foreign imports, cider deserved stronger government support due to its largely domestic production and buoyant growth in recent years.

With retail sales currently valued at £3 billion, the UK cider industry is due to plant at least 2,000 acres of orchard over the next two years, while a growing export focus saw cider maker Aston Manor as the only drinks firm to accompany the Prime Minister’s trade mission to China earlier this month.

“The cider industry contributes hugely to the communities and economy in rural areas,” said Paul Bartlett, chair of the NACM. “We also work on a long-term investment cycle which means government support is absolutely crucial to the continuing success of our trade.”

Highlighting the more favourable treatment afforded to the beer sector, Bartlett noted: “The chancellor removed the duty escalator on beer in March, so we know that he already feels it is flawed. Now we would like to see him extend that to cider, too.

Ian Lewis, head of marketing at Westons Cider in Herefordshire, which produced the cider for this campaign, added: “We needed a way to really hammer home our message about the importance of removing the duty escalator – and I think sending out the customised cider bottles is a brilliant way to get the attention of the MPs.”

This move from the NACM coincides with today’s launch of a “Call Time on Duty” campaign by the Wine & Spirits Trade Association, which urges to Chancellor to end the alcohol duty escalator for all drinks categories.

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