Trading definition to allay fruit threat

09 March, 2007

The National Association of Cider Makers may create a national trading standards definition of cider amid concern that fruit-flavoured drinks masquerading as ciders could threaten the growing market.

So far the association has developed, but not yet ratified, a definition of cider, which says it must be made mainly from fermented apple juice - although some proportion can be fermented pear juice. Revenue & Customs already has a similar definition of cider for tax purposes.

NACM spokesman Simon Russell said: "We are trying to talk about the relevance and the quality of cider and how it is a natural product, all those good things, and if there is something else that claims to be cider when it is not that is an issue. We've seen quite a lot of improvement in the general perception of cider, and we would want to make sure that is maintained."

John Mills, managing director of Gaymer , has warned that if the cider industry does not keep tight controls on what is marketed as cider it could face a crippling duty hike.

He said: "I would encourage cider manufacturers not to prefix cider with a fruit variant. Although they will be paying a higher rate of duty, the danger is that ,while all this innovation is coming out, the ­Chancellor will look at this category and say: 'It is doing very well but it has moved from alcopops, flavoured spirits, to flavoured ciders' - and hike duty on it. And if that happens the cider industry will collapse, because it is so much more expensive to make cider than RTDs."

Russell said drinks marketed as "pear cider" are not worrying the NACM as much as other fruit ciders, such as strawberry , because perry and cider are made in similar ways. He said: " If people don't quite understand what perry is, maybe we've got to educate them, rather than use a shorthand communication device and call it pear cider."

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