Since the 1976 Budget which brought cider into the alcohol duty schedule. The exemption, has served the cider resurgence well and has helped create a wonderful collection of regional ciders.

The European Commission recently notified the UK Govt that the 7000L Duty Exemption currently utilised by small-scale real craft cider and perry producers contravenes EU legislation. They are threatening legal action unless the UK Government comes up with a satisfactory response.

The EU are threatening something that doesn’t affect big producers, notably a £2,500-a-year tax bill which looks to shrink the ever growing popularity of craft cider.

As a small cider producer starting out, it would be almost impossible for me to move from a hobby into a small commercial business if the exemption didn’t exist. Sam S

The Small Brewery Duty Relief Scheme has helped many small breweries, but Cider makers are not eligible for this, and as such it’s already hard to even break even – we can’t mass produce real cider it takes 8 months to make.

What damage the clampdown will cause to livelihoods as well as ancient orchards is hard to estimate. Cider makers will not want to pay this so they will either end what must be England’s oldest drink, make cider discreetly, or wait to be shut down by EU. None of these are suitable options.

In January 2015, George Osborne and David Cameron visited a cider maker, Hecks – where Osborne reiterated that the South West could be the equivalent of the thriving west coast of the US as he launched the “long-term” economic plan. Not if the EU have their way. We have to make a noise to local MP’s to stop this action. We are talking about a rich heritage and history of cider in the West Country being shut down by EU.

Small craft cider makers are the upholding a tradition. This small tax break is the only way many can survive. Craig S

This will change the way farms have switched over in recent years from intensive farming to craft cider making as a sustainable business. As well as changing the local landscape and biodiversity into forgotten orchards, or worse still – destroyed to make way for other ways of making ends meet financially.

Who is going to go round collecting this tax from small scale cider makers in their garden sheds and outbuildings?

If you want your voice to be heard and help real cider, contacting you local MPs would be a good starting point.

Keep up to date with all the latest information at the SAVE OUR REAL CIDER Facebook group.

Update – 5th March 2015

I was asked to provide information for an article the Sun newspaper ran today. Click on image for large version.



  1. Jim Callender

    Mark from Venton’s cider has now spoken to Gareth MacDonald, CAMRA South West Regional Director in more detail.

    Gareth will give his full regional support and also write to Apple about it to ask for active support on a national level. Gareth recommends a letter is sent to local MP’s to gain their support without delay as there is not much time left.

    We have discussed it in principle and he has offered to draft a letter which will then be sent to me and I will distribute it for general comment and to add any facts or figures which Gareth may not be aware of. The letter can then be sent out to MP’s by us in our various constituencies. This letter is for lobbying MP support.

    A detailed proposal for a fact filled alternative to the exemption is a separate issue which needs to be drafted after the SWECA meeting and after agreement has been reached on what is common ground and acceptable to the majority of cider producers at all levels and in all regions, as far as practicably possible in the short time available.

    This is important as a an alternative cannot overly benefit one sector if it is overly detrimental to another, if it is to carry any weight and gain support at Government level.

    A meeting will be arranged between Gareth and those of us who can attend, to discuss this and more general cider making issues including how CAMRA can proactively help lobby this issue and promote Real Cider in the future.

  2. Jim Callender

    Article regarding this issue in the Sun newspaper tomorrow. Look out for it!

  3. Steve

    I work with traditional orchards. I’ll be happy to send a letter to my MP so please contact me when you have drafted above said letter. I’ve subscribed to Real-Cider emails so please send through that channel as I don’t want to put my email address here

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