With all the bad news about local job losses...some good news for a change!
A BOOM in cider sales has saved orchards in the Adelaide Hills and boosted optimism in the region’s apple and pear industry as the annual harvest moves into full swing.
As pubs and bottle shops report continuing annual growth in consumer demand of close to 30 per cent since 2010 and a leap in the number of new brands coming into the market, leading SA producer The Hills Cider Company has notched up an extraordinary four times growth since it started four years ago.
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Its expansion from a tiny two tonnes of fruit on Australia Day 2010 to now processing 2500 tonnes has directly saved orchards, co-proprietor Steve Dorman told The Advertiser.
“We’ve completely and utterly rejuvenated some orchards, whose owners were going to walk away from them because of high input and labour costs,” Mr Dorman said.
His award winning ciders, which includes a pear version that is the current Australian Cider Awards champion, use Hills fruit from more than six orchards and processed at an Ashton cold store facility owned by the Ceravolo family.
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Cider apples and pears are graded mostly below store and supermarket levels simply on looks alone, so the boom in cider production means orchardists can sell B-grade or slightly blemished fruit that would have been dumped or used for mulch or to feed stock.
That outlet contributes significantly to orchardists’ survival, Apple and Pear growers Association of SA director Susie Green confirmed.
“The industry, like many in primary production, is under a fair bit of pressure from rising costs and downward prices,” Ms Green said.
“Anything like the cider boom alleviates that pressure.
“It’s been a very positive result for the industry,” she said.
While local craft cider makers are benefiting from the drink’s rising popularity, Highway Hotel general manager Simon Adami says the trend is across all levels of the cider category with the super commercial brands the main growth drivers.
After stocking just a few of the leading big brands four years ago the Highway now carries more than 50 labels from Australia and overseas, and has opened up their annual craft beer festival in April to include ciders as well.
The latest revolution in the cider business is in the flavoured sector, which has exploited a loophole in lax labelling laws to include drinks not made from apples or pears but syrups, concentrates, flavourings and colours.