by Samantha Townsend
It’s been known as a ‘party sunshine drink’ but Australian cider makers want to shed that image as the industry carves out a growing reputation in the market.
The industry now sees themselves as a fruit wine, with the only difference being that in cider they use apples rather than grapes.
According to industry peak body Cider Australia, retail sales were $310 million last year, with around 11.4 per cent per year revenue growth in the past five years.
There are now 130 cideries in Australia, which has doubled compared to five years ago and they expect a 5.5 per cent per year projected growth in the next five years.
Exports are now worth $16.5 million with key markets including the UK 24pc, New Zealand 20pc, US 16pc and Japan 9pc.
Cider Australia president Sam Reid, the co-owner of Tasmania’s Willie Smith’s Organic Apple Cider, said there was a growing interest in cider for a number of reasons including its lower alcohol content compared to its counterparts.
“Instead of a party sunshine drink we now see ourselves as a fruit wine,” Mr Reid said.
But with only 15pc of ciders sold in Australia made using Australian-grown product, Mr Reid said they were campaigning to change legislation for country of origin labelling.
“We want to have the same regulatory as wine as consumers have a right to know where the fruit comes from and we are trying to work with (Federal) Government to say that,” Mr Reid said.
Despite its name, Orange in NSW central-west is a well known apple growing region.
The apples supply along with an ideal climate, rich red basalt soil, and thriving food industry is why James and Gail Kendell from Small Acres Cyder wanted to establish a cider business.
When they moved to Australia in 2000, there was nothing like the European old world ciders Gail had grown up with in the United Kingdom, which has a massive cider industry.
“That’s what we wanted to bring to Australia and introduced to the Australian market,” Mr Kendell said.
“There were also not many ciders at the time and we wanted to change that.”
They now have 12 different styles of award-winning ciders, which is solely made using the juice of either pears or apples grown in the region.
“We don’t add sugar, we don’t dilute with water and we don’t use flavours,” he said.
“We use the natural flavours that come from the apples grown in our orchard.”