Cider Canada – FINA Presentation May 16 2022

Executive Director Barry Rooke presented at the House of Commons Finance Committee meeting on May 16th to speak about the impacts of the new budget on Cider in Canada this year. Full recording here:

Watch the presentation and questions on YouTube

Thank you for having me present to the committee today, My name is Barry Rooke.  I am the Executive Director of the new national Cider Association, Cider Canada / Cidre Canada.  We support the 370 licensed cider makers across the country and have just reached our 1st year as a non-profit last month.  

Although the association is new, cider has been produced in Canada for hundreds of years, making a resurgence over the last half-decade.  We believe the number of cider producers have doubled in the last 5 years across Canada. 

The sector directly supports close to nine thousand jobs, and tens of thousands of others in orchards, transportation and restaurants.  Cider producers come in many different forms, small fruit to table producers who do everything like Riverdale Orchard and Cidery in  Bonshaw, PEI,  Community-focused small businesses like Coronation Hall Cider Mills in Bristol Quebec, destination cideries like Taves Estates Cidery in Abbotsford, BC and large, commercially driven products that service the entire country like Growers, No Boats on Sunday and Thornbury Craft Cider Company. For Ontario, we believe that close to 8 percent of apples are used for cider, with numbers in BC, Quebec and Nova Scotia at similar or even higher levels –  much of this is using apples that would not be used otherwise because of their appearance.   It is also an important alternative to beer for those who are gluten intolerant and don’t want the high alcohol level of a wine.

Our biggest concern is related to the incoming excise duty. This is expected to increase the costs of a can or bottle by 20 to 50 cents.  This cost has to be borne by the producers or passed onto the consumer for at least 6 months before the proposed producer’s program provides some relief.

With production costs rising, transportation costs further increasing and new cash flow issues, cider producers are struggling to compete with international product price points that are drastically inferior to Canadian beverages and see money leave the country.  This would be very bad for Canada’s largest fruit producing sector. 

The proposed support program appears to be short by about 25-35 million dollars a year and is only set to last until 2024.  We need to have a fully funded program as the sector’s consumer base is really starting to grow.  We have the resources to be one of the largest producers of this product in the world, having this added cost will stifle growth as it puts doubt into producers and leaves the sector unsure whether to invest in the Canadian economy.  We could see close to half of the cider producers in Canada close in the next three years, with an estimated economic impact of $500million annually. 

Production of cider is slightly different from our counterparts in the wine industry, where cider is classified.  Production costs for cider are typically higher than wine, but it’s consumed more like a beer.  Apples can travel better and be stored for a longer time which makes production able to happen year-round.  This means that importing juice, which is not overly common, could be a solution to reduce costs – at the impact on the local economy. 

Without a fully-funded program, large commercial cideries will have no incentive to buy Canadian apples and may turn to import.  It also encourages medium companies who use groups like BC Tree Fruits to co-pack or co produce a product, to look for juice externally and further hurt the Canadian apple industry.

I will finish my time with some great news about the sector. We are becoming known worldwide, as cider producers in Canada are winning awards for disproportionate amounts. We make really really good cider with a lot of Canadian apples. 

Thank you again for the opportunity to share information about what used to be one of the largest industries in Canada, the pre-prohibition era, now seeing faster growth than the  craft beer industry did from 20 to ten years ago.  Now is the time to invest in the sector. 

I am happy to answer any questions. 

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  1. […] Cider Canada presented to the Standing Committee on Finance (FINA), talking about the importance of the Canadian cider industry, its close relationship to apple growers in Canada, and the economic impacts it has across the country on May 16th. You can read the presentation and watch the video’s here.  […]

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