Dear Cider Friends –
As the new year begins, I am reflecting on the special challenges our incredible industry faces. 2022 will inevitably require more adaptation to supply chain issues, inflation, labor shortages, and the ongoing impact of the pandemic on sales channels and business models. These conditions are impacting all sectors of the alcoholic beverage market, but the special challenges we face in cider are a function of our small category size and the limited resources and power we have among ourselves to build awareness among consumers and achieve leverage in distribution.
I believe more than ever that cider’s future is strengthened when we draw the connection from apples to orchards to cider. Stories of growers, varieties, and the flavors that apples bring to ciders and to food pairings are what can move people to a greater appreciation of the diversity among cider offerings and a greater openness to considering cider as a choice on the shelf or at the table. These stories will benefit large and small cideries alike, across all price points and methods. Our fruit is what makes our product more expensive than grain or cane sugar based alcohols. We all must celebrate it if we are to claim the price points we need for economic sustainability across size and method. In this sense, we are truly united in our “big tent” approach. All cider is made from apples and we as a category share pride in that.
On an exciting note, we are seeing new cideries continue to open across the country. Also increasing are wineries and breweries who are adding ciders to their product line ups, including new orchard operations. These will be more voices helping to spread the word about apples and cider. Concurrently, as an association, we have invested this year in more projects to measure and report on the growth of cideries. Additionally, for the first time, we are reporting on trends in the segments of the market that are often missed by data services such as Nilsen and IRI, including cellar door and cider club sales and sales to smaller and/or regional on-premises accounts. This will allow us to create a fuller picture of the American cider market. Stay tuned for more exciting data announcements!
We are excited to include this new data perspective in our CiderCon® program in Richmond next month. The ACA team, volunteers and partners have worked hard to identify the best tracks, presenters and topics based on your feedback, from apples and orcharding to production, compliance and more. CiderCon® covers these important topics across a range of experience and business models: from enthusiast to expert, from taprooms to cider clubs, and from high volume cans to small batch natural ciders. Michelle and the Board are working to make sure we can hold CiderCon® safely in the current environment, and there will continue to be updates as the date draws nearer.
I wish all of you, your families and team members health and prosperity for 2022. In the meantime, if I can be of service, if you have questions, if you have comments or suggestions, I will always be delighted to hear from you.