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Published on September 5th, 2017 | by OBN Staff

Ontario craft cideries increasing production, responding to demand

Press release via Ontario Craft Cider Association

Latest stats show craft cider as leading beverage growth sector

Toronto – A recent study completed by the Ontario Craft Cider Association (OCCA) has revealed encouraging stats for Ontario’s craft cider makers and the provincial economy. This Ontario beverage sector is experiencing remarkable year over year growth largely from entrepreneurs and new investment, with currently 56 active cideries and another 26 already in development. In addition to the standard LCBO outlets across the province, 206 grocery stores have now also been authorized to sell cider, significantly improving market access for cider makers.

The phenomenon of increasing cider consumption is not unique to Ontario with significant growth in production across North America and Europe to meet demand. This global increase in production has been both a challenge and an opportunity for Ontario cider producers who are competing with imported product at 73 per cent of market share and multi-national consolidation that threatens local craft production.

“We have incredible potential in the Ontario craft cider sector to capture imported market share with local and innovative cider products,” said Thomas Wilson, Chair, OCCA and owner of Spirit Tree Estate Cidery. “Between 2015 and 2016 alone, our own cider production increased by 150 per cent to meet domestic demand. And if our economic analyses are any indicator, overall provincial production will be up three times current levels by 2020. The growth in this sector has been incredible.”

Latest statistics from 2015 indicate that Ontario’s cohort of craft cideries produced 2.1 million litres of cider and generated $12.3 million in sales. By 2020, these numbers are expected to reach 6.9 million litres and $38.8 million in sales. The impact to the provincial economy is equally positive with job creation numbers. The industry is expecting to reach over 400 jobs by 2020, and a contributing over $29.3 million to the GDP.

Given that 98 per cent of Ontario craft cider production is sold within the province, there is also significant opportunity to brand this product as “local Ontario” for export markets around the globe. Other jurisdictions including Oregon and Japan have already embraced marketing strategies that capitalize on a strong reputation for unique production practices and high quality products.

“This is an important time for cideries when we purchase local apples and pears directly from Ontario farmers. Given the outstanding quality of Ontario fruit, these relationships are essential to our success and together we are producing an exceptional product that is unique to Ontario’s provenance. There is so much opportunity to appreciably increase craft cider production in Ontario with the right marketing and business development support,” said Thomas Wilson.

“The craft cider industry here in Ontario is only just getting started,” said Thomas Wilson. “Ontario is the largest apple growing province in Canada. In partnership with the Ontario Apple Growers and with support from the Province of Ontario, our craft cider industry has the potential to produce as much cider as the entire UK sector, totalling $12 billion Canadian.”

The Government of Canada recognizes our food and beverage processing industry as one of the key players in Canadian agriculture, especially as we move towards our ambitious target of exporting $75B in agri-good products by 2025. The results of this study will help us understand the important role the cider industry plays in our economy and ensure its success in the future.”

– Lawrence MacAulay, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“As an important contributor to good jobs in communities across the province, our government is committed to growing Ontario’s booming craft cider industry. That’s why we launched the Small Cidery and Small Distillery Support Program to help craft cider producers scale up, hire more staff, and deliver more great Ontario-made products to consumers here in our province.”

– Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

To learn more about Ontario’s craft cider makers and to download a copy of the recently released economic impact analysis, go to www.ontariocraftcider.com.

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