Paul Shand explores how British cider makers can avoid the winter downturn in sales by giving the southern hemisphere and warm-climate countries a taste for their tipple

It’s no surprise that spring and summer are key sales periods for cider brands as the drink has become synonymous with BBQ season. While summer might be a distant memory, it doesn’t mean thirst for cider has dried up, with global demand for the sweet drink and British-stamped products continuing to grow.

The UK has an unrivalled reputation for cider making, with near perfect conditions for apple growing. Our nation is at the core of the industry, thanks to popular brands like Thatchers and Sheppy’s flying the flag for the country. Latest figures show that the UK now exports cider to 50 countries worldwide, with British-made craft cider cropping up in bars in cities ranging from New York to Tokyo.

As demand for cider continues to soar overseas, it’s important that local producers know which markets to target and how exporting can help them equalise seasonal spikes in demand.

As part of the Food is GREAT campaign, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) offer a wealth of support to help British producers who are keen to explore markets overseas.

Warm-climate countries and the Southern Hemisphere can provide lucrative opportunities for firms to keep up sales year-round. Cider is traditionally enjoyed in the sunshine, so with the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months falling between October and February, cider producers are provided with ample opportunities to even out Northern Hemisphere seasonal demand.

And countries with year-round sunshine are also prime places for British cider makers to consider exporting. One local business that’s successfully tapping into this opportunity is Sheppy’s Cider. The brand currently exports to 15 countries including Singapore and India.

By targeting warmer climates during the British winter, it has been able to sustain popularity and demand for its range of refreshing ciders throughout the year. While exporting provides a myriad of opportunities and benefits for cider producers, it can also bring challenges such as logistics and language.

Alcohol is highly regulated and, when exporting, it’s important for businesses to familiarise themselves with local standards and regulations. Requirements around labelling must also be considered.

For example, Sheppy’s Cider needs to show the volume of its product in fluid ounces as well as in millilitres when exporting to the US. Each country will have its own unique requirements and regulations, so it’s vital that brands research their chosen markets or get in touch with professional organisations for support.

Not only is there a dedicated team of trade advisers across the South West to support ambitious and innovative businesses looking to access new markets and increase exports, but there is also a team of experienced sector specialists and an overseas network in over 100 countries. We can offer a range of guidance and support, including international market research and exporting workshops, as well as enabling contact with buyers and distributors in new markets.

Paul Shand is Head of Exports in the South West, Department for International Trade (DIT). The Department for International Trade helps businesses export, drives inward and outward investment, negotiates market access and trade deals, and champions free trade. Breweries and all other firms looking for exporting support should contact their local DIT office or visit:
www.great.gov.uk