June 28, 2023 By Fruit & Vegetable
The Ontario Craft Cider Association (OCCA) is launching a new industry growth strategy that aims to increase production from 6 million to 30 million litres per year by 2030.
“We believe that this strategic plan represents a major milestone in the growth and development of the craft cider industry,” said Matt Dixon, OCCA chair, in a press release. “Through sector and consumer research, we are poised for innovative and transformational expansion that will significantly increase the footprint of our impact on the Ontario economy.”
The strategy identified four key pillars for advancing the industry: advocating for fairness, improving communication and building awareness, collaborating with supply chain partners, and growing partnerships. The strategy also looked at other North American craft cider markets – specifically New York State, which has a $1.7 billion cider industry.
“Ontario craft cider continually wins awards at international cider competitions, so we are confident with the quality of our apples and the passion of our craft cider producers. Plus, working closely with our stakeholders, such as the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, we are writing the next success story for the Ontario Craft Beverage Alcohol industry,” said Janice Ruddock, executive director of OCCA, in a press release.
“We will continue to work closely with our membership and engage with multiple departments within the Ontario government to ensure that our industry is improving distribution channels and supporting research and initiatives that advance the industry as a whole, [while] at the same time educating all consumers who drink cider to enjoy the superior quality of Ontario craft cider.”
Though there are aspects of the regulatory environment that require calibration, the outlook presents an optimistic picture with extremely favourable trends. Cider sales throughout Canada have steadily increased over 2020-2021 to $299 million in revenues – an increase of 1.7 per cent. Similarly, local Ontario craft cider has experienced a steady rise in sales at LCBO from 2016 to 2020. Craft cider is increasingly popular among younger generations, especially female consumers, and international visitors to Canada. The rising trends of “buying local” and increasing popularity of gluten-free products are also favourable for the industry. The impact of the sector nationally continues to grow, with Canadian-made cider consumed at 81.9 per cent of total sales in Canada from 2020-2021.
“Ontario’s growing craft cider industry has generated delicious cider from cideries that ultimately support our local rural economies,” said Lisa Thompson, provincial minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs. “The Ontario Craft Cider Association’s new strategy closely aligns with our government’s own Grow Ontario Strategy. We look forward to working with industry as it continues to grow, create jobs across the supply chain and increase consumption of Ontario made food and beverages.”
OCCA’s 2030 goal of $30 million litres will result in $115 million in GDP, and 1,720 in employment. “Over the short to medium terms, we will be working strategically with our partners and the Ministry to ensure there is a supportive regulatory pathway for our producers,” said Ruddock. “This strategy has informed and reaffirmed our direction as we embark on what will undoubtedly be a dynamic period for the industry.”
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