The American Cider Association (ACA) recently sent a letter to the TTB voicing the ACA’s support of a specific proposed labeling rule included in Notice 176, published in late 2018.
The notice contained proposed rules for modernizing wine (including cider), spirits and malt beverages labeling and advertising regulations. The ACA, many regional cider guilds and dozens of our members submitted comments on the notice during the official comment period. The comments included support for many but not all of the proposed rules.
Some positive change has resulted from those comments. We are hopeful our letter will usher further TTB announcements in favor of our official comments first made in 2019. This letter is our third mention of our support of harvest dates since our official comments posted.
The ACA’s recent letter to the TTB reiterated our support for the Notice 176 proposal to allow the use of harvest dates on qualifying wines and ciders. Harvest dates would create an important opportunity to distinguish a maker’s cider from season to season. Read our letter for further details of the proposal and our reasons for supporting it.
THE VOICE OF THE INDUSTRY
Our members’ support allows the ACA to amplify the voice of cider and to develop relationships with the TTB and others for the benefit of our industry. Through the collective power of our members, we have a stronger voice for cider when it matters. Our recent letter in support of harvest dates is one example of our commitment to advancing the needs of all cider producers, big or small.
We are grateful for the TTB for seeking the input of industry members regarding the proposed rules in Notice 176, and we eagerly await further announcements regarding the creation of harvest dates.
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.”
Since the enactment of the CIDER Act, the cider tax rate applies to products that are under 8.5% ABV, under 0.64 gram of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters and contain no other fruit than apples or pears. Until very recently, the TTB was requiring a tax class code on all products eligible for the hard cider tax rate. These requirements were part of temporary rules that were put in place in reaction to the expansion of the product types eligible for the reduced rate. They mandated that the code “Tax class 5041(b)(6)” be on the packaging of hard cider tax rate product. These rules have now expired–the reduced tax rate remains.
For now, the TTB is not mandating the use of the statement “Tax class 5041(b)(6).” Nevertheless, the regulations do say that all wines (including cider and fruit cider, all ABVs) must be labeled with enough information for TTB to identify the correct tax class.
“Using ‘Tax class 5041(b)(6)’ will meet that requirement, so no one has to change their label unless they choose to,” said Susan Evans, TTB Director, Office of Industry and State Outreach in an email to the Association.
In the absence of the statement of the Tax class 5041(b)(6), the label must provide enough information for the TTB to know that the product is under 8.5% ABV, under 0.64 gram of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters and contains no other fruit than apples or pears.
We anticipate that the code requirement will return when the permanent rules are released, and will keep our members informed of such news.
Since the enactment of the CIDER Act, the cider tax rate applies to products that are under 8.5% ABV, under 0.64 gram of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters and contain no other fruit than apples or pears.
As of January 1, 2019, the TTB is requiring all cider (not just cider >7% ABV) that qualifies for the cider tax rate to be labeled with this statement: Tax class 5041(b)(6). The requirement starts when the product is removed from bonded premises. If your product was labeled and removed from bonded premises before the start of this year, it is not required to have the tax class statement.
If your cider was labeled in 2018 but wasn’t removed from bonded premises until 2019, the cider tax class statement must be present on the label. The TTB will allow a sticker with the statement to be applied to the label to be in compliance. Read more in TTB’s Industry Circular 2017-2.