Craft cider makers are looking for a slice of the pie in terms of reduced excise tax for Budget 2022, in line with relief already enjoyed by craft brewers.
Three Cork-based cider makers are calling on the finance minister to include a measure to reduce excise by 50% for craft cider producers in this year’s budget.
Drinks Ireland Cider, the representative group of Ireland’s cider producers, believes this reduction already in place for Ireland’s craft brewers should be extended to craft cider producers.
The Cork cider makers make the point that the past 18 months have been challenging for the cider sector overall. The various rolling lockdowns on hospitality venues in Ireland increased cider purchases in the retail sector, but this was not enough to offset the loss of cider sales in pubs, restaurants, and hotels.
Typically, around 45% of cider purchases were in the on-trade, with 55% in the off-trade; the ratio of on-trade for craft producers is far higher.
However, just 16% of cider was sold in the on-trade in 2020, with 84% of sales in the off-trade, illustrating the massive shift in purchasing patterns. The Covid impact on cider, which is heavily reliant on the on-trade, meant that its market share of alcoholic beverages fell from 7.4% in 2019 to 6.9% in 2020.
Daniel Emerson of Stonewell Cider in Kilnagleary said: “We are asking for the excise relief programme, currently enjoyed by microbrewers, to simply be extended to craft cider producers. The extra margin generated would be driven into capital investment and growth initiatives. There are at least a dozen craft cider producers scattered across Ireland, including ours in Cork, that would benefit greatly with this reduction.”
Barry Walsh from Killahora Orchards in Killahora said: “Ireland already has the third-highest rate of excise on cider in the EU, and this excise reduction for craft cider producers would help support small businesses like ours to create a greater diversity of high-quality Irish products available to consumers.”
Willie O’Callaghan of Longueville House Cider in Mallow said: “Ireland’s craft cider industry is 100% indigenous, from the sourcing of the apples to supporting local employment.
"This is certainly something the Government should be supporting, and an excise reduction would help foster growth.”
Jonathan McDade, head of Cider at Drinks Ireland said: “The Irish cider industry has had a challenging 18 months, and any assistance from the Government would be welcome.
“The excise relief programme for Ireland’s craft brewers saw the number of physical breweries increase from eight to 75 in the space of a decade.
“Extending this programme to craft cider producers could result in further growth in the sector, foster more innovation, and potentially provide consumers with more choice.”