South West of England Cidermakers’ Association

Supporting the region’s growers and makers

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Informative SWECA Meeting held at Rich\'s

SWECA members and guests gathered at Rich’s Cider on March 14, courtesy of Jan, Martin, Brian and George Rich for what proved an informative day.

Bob Price, Director & Policy Advisor at the NACM, gave an enlightening talk on the current position of the proposed introduction of MUP, its reported demise in Cabinet and the possible future direction of the Government’s stated aim to tackle binge drinking and discounted alcohol sales.

Up next was Gilly Pollock who offered an introduction to the work and activities of the Orcharding Network of Excellence (ONE). Based in Herefordshire and formerly known as Herefordshire Orcharding Network of Excellence (HONE), the organisation is now extending its reach into the South West and has changed its name and activities accordingly. Gilly encouraged SWECA members to take this new opportunity to get involved either as a member (£75/yr) or simply by opting to receive free information updates. Anyone interested in participating and/or receiving the free email newsletters and updates should visit the ONE website at this link and register their contact details.

Robyn Dunwoodie of the Portman Group was due to give a presentation on the new edition of the Portman Group Code Of Practice but was unfortunately unable to attend due to illness. The venerable Bob Price once again stepped up to the plate, outlining the application of the code to product labelling.

After one of the best SWECA lunches anyone can remember in the Rich’s restaurant, Liz Copas and Neil Macdonald held a workshop on the pruning and care of standard cider apple trees.

Thanks again to all speakers for a very informative day, and a particularly big thank you to Jan and her team for the splendid hospitality.

SWECA submission to the Government Consultation on MUP

Today SWECA's committee has made the following submission to the Government Consultation on Minimum Unit Pricing.

The South West of England Cider Makers’ Association (SWECA) is a trade organisation established in 1937 to represent the interests of commercial cider makers in the south west of England. There are currently about 60 members. Most of the members of SWECA are small- to medium-sized businesses run from farms.

SWECA is seriously concerned about the potential damage the Government’s proposed minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcoholic products will cause to traditional West Country cider makers, their customers and the rural economy in general.

We oppose the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol for the following reasons:

1) A minimum unit price penalises all drinkers and is particularly unfair to those on lower incomes, who are in the main not the problem drinkers.

2) There is no evidence that a minimum price for alcohol will reduce problem drinking.

3) Traditional cider makers and their customers are not part of the problem that the Government wishes to address with this policy and they would be unfairly penalised by the policy. 

Cider is an important part of the rural economy in the South West, with makers investing in orchards with an expected life of 50 years or more, creating long-term sustainable employment. Cider contributes great value to the tourist and agricultural economies and is an important part of the cultural tradition and image of the South West.

Farmhouse cider in particular will be damaged by the proposed minimum unit price for alcohol as draught cider is historically sold at a relatively low price and a significant proportion at ‘the farmgate’. Part of the reason for the historically low price is that the raw materials (apples) are grown on site, there is no distribution cost and packaging is minimal or returnable – in short, the industry is at the forefront of sustainable food production and meeting the government’s green agenda. Much of this achievement could be lost by poorly considered legislation and a historic and significant part of the rural economy destroyed.

We urge the Government to carefully consider these issues before making any decision that may damage our industry.

Alex Hill
Bollhayes Cider
Chairman of SWECA
31 January 2013

Latest Code of Practice from Portman Group released

The fifth edition of the Portman Group Code of Practice for alcohol producers has been announced, setting the standard for responsible alcohol marketing and effective industry self-regulation.

The Portman Group committed to review the Code of Practice on the Responsible Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks in 2011 as part of the Government’s Responsibility Deal. 
The review included a full public consultation, expert workshops and views from over one hundred stakeholders ranging from government bodies, NGOs and the public health community through to producers, marketing experts and industry representatives.

Among other things, Version 5 includes new producer responsibilities to ensure content on their social media channels, including user-generated content, doesn't contravene the Responsible Marketing code.

A digital version of the pamphlet can be downloaded here

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