In a special edition newsletter sent to subscribers on December 28, 2020, the TTB announced new rules regarding standards of fill. The additional volumes approved for wine are:
- 355 ml (12 oz)
- 250 ml
- 200 ml
As all ciders are regulated as wine by the TTB, the above sizes are now being added as approved for cider. This means ciders above 7% will be able to be packaged in a 12 oz can or bottle for the first time. Previously, a state exemption was required to package ciders over 7% ABV in 355 ml packaging.
“These new container sizes will provide bottlers with flexibility by allowing the use of the added container sizes, and will facilitate the movement of goods in domestic and international commerce, while also providing consumers broader purchasing options,” the TTB writes in their newsletter.
The TTB newsletter included a final draft of the rule. The rule includes several mentions of submitted commentary from cidermakers and the American Cider Association (ACA) (formerly United States Association of Cider Makers).
An excerpt: “These producers note that, in the production of cider, apples often naturally ferment to an alcohol by volume (abv) level just above 7.4%, so producers often take steps to lower the abv below 7% so that the standards of fill regulations will not apply, enabling them to use 355 milliliter containers. They state that sugar levels in apples vary widely depending on climate and other factors, making final alcohol levels difficult to predict. They argue that being able to use the 355 milliliter container size will eliminate this uncertainty.”
“The ACA government affairs committee worked to make this happen,” said Michelle McGrath, executive director of ACA. “Additionally, so many of our members came together to provide comments. Our united voices made the difference.”
“ACA believes that this will help apple-focused cidermakers and others with packaging flexibility and compliance,” McGrath added.
The addition of 200 ml containers is also a win for US ice cider producers. “This will help our ice cider business, where 200ml has been a traditional ice wine bottle size outside the US for decades, and we have not had access to that format,” said ice cider producer and ACA board member, Eleanor Leger.
“There are many styles of cider, and packaging flexibility will allow us to deliver the right cider to the customer in the right package. We are excited that we can finally put ciders produced with heirloom and tannic varieties in a more accessible format for customers,” Leger added.
The American Cider Association is grateful to the TTB for providing a platform for industry and public comment. “We are very pleased that the TTB continues to work with industry to evaluate regulation and its relevance to current market conditions,” ACA board President Paul Vander Heide said. “Broadening standards of fill gives our members increased flexibility to serve their customers.”