9th May 2014
This was the message received by Conservative South West MEP, Ashley Fox, when he visited Dorset to meet with local orchard owner Rupert Best and cider maker Nick Poole, who produces the fabulous ‘Lancombe Rising’ cider from apples supplied from Rupert’s orchards.
“Cider making is very different to brewing beer. Typically the lifespan of a bush cider orchard is 30 years or more, so it is a very long term commitment and involves a lot of time, money and effort to develop a mature orchard able to supply quality apples to cider makers like Nick,” commented orchard owner, Rupert Best. “In 2011 we had a bumper harvest, but the last couple of years have been disappointing. It was good to be able to show Ashley round and help him understand the complexities of the sector and the challenges we face, not just on harvest totals, but disease, investment and the need for stability in the market.”
“Cider making and drinking is a South West tradition that many of us take for granted, but this hasn’t always been the case,” argues cider maker Nick Poole. “In the year 2000 I set up the Powerstock Cider festival in West Dorset. At that time I could only find three local cider producers. Now there are over 20. Reliant as we are on one harvest a year we are at the mercy of the weather, but the new found interest in quality local ciders is great for business and the whole cider industry.”
Ashley said after the visit, “earlier this year the press focused a lot of attention on the Chancellor’s scrapping of the Duty Escalator, which pushed up the price of a pint of beer every year at above the rate of inflation, and his cut in the beer duty. What received rather less attention was his freezing of cider duty and that the scrapping of the Duty Escalator also helps keep the cost of a pint of cider down. Despite the recent weather, South West Cider is a real success story for the region and by keeping the cost of a pint down the Government is helping the rural economy. I’ll drink to that.”