The Cider Crate

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Get to Know the Ontario Cider Industry

Like a growing number of Ontarians, you may regularly enjoy a crisp craft cider from a local producer. But what you may not realize is you’re drinking a product that represents a notable slice of the provincial economy and, increasingly, a valuable export outside of Canada.

Craft cider in Ontario

The economic contribution of cider in Ontario is nothing to sneeze at: craft cider alone generated $73.5 in economic activity in 2017 and contributed $12.7 million to the province’s GDP.

As of now, there are 99 producers in the province. Much of this economic contribution comes from the approximately 60 Ontario cidermakers active in 2017, three-quarters of whom call rural Southern Ontario home. In 2017, these producers turned 23 million pounds of Ontario apples into cider. 

In 2017-2018, sales of Ontario craft cider at the LCBO grew by 42 percent over the previous year, topping out at over $11.5 million in sales. Incredibly, Ontario craft cider represents only 11.5 percent of total cider sales at the LCBO, which is indicative both of cider’s overall popularity and the incredible potential for growth craft cider has in this province. Looking at Canada as a whole, Ontario is a top province for both the production and sale of cider.

What makes a cider “craft”? 
It must be produced in Ontario, using exclusively locally-grown apples or pears. However, there is also some debate as to the size of the organization producing the product, and if the product is the primary offering of the company, or something branded to fill that organizations portfolio] 

 

Growth in popularity

Why has the cider sector taken off? There are many reasons for its incredible growth, including its status as a gluten-free alternative to beer and consumers’ increasing desire for unique products and flavours. Craft cider in particular is seen as a premium product; one that piques the interest of drinkers who are looking for local production and authentic experiences.

But many people still don’t know exactly what cider is, or have impressions of the product that may no longer be accurate (e.g. that it is very sweet, high in sugar, or is a seasonal product – of which all of these can be true but are typically not). With greater consumer education and increased marketing, there is likely more room for converting the cider-curious into the cider-serious.

Exporting cider

As of 2017, almost all – 98.8 percent! – of Canadian cider exports went to the United States. That corresponds to sales of approximately $61 million. In comparison, we exported less than $40,000 CAD to the United Kingdom, another major cider market. 

First in flight and first in cider 
As of 2017, North Carolina was the most valuable destination for Canadian cider exports – worth over $13 million or 22.6 percent of the total value of cider exports to the United States.

Cider has seen tremendous growth over the past five years, but sales in the US have decreased for the past two. Fortunately for Ontario craft cider, that decline has been driven by national brands. According to the United States Association of Cider Makers, local and regional ciders continue to see double-digit growth, presenting a continued opportunity for our craft brands.

 

Canadians appear to be the most enthusiastic cider consumers compared to our closest neighbours. By 2022, we are expected to drink more than 92 million litres of cider, an increase of approximately 10 percent over 2018. As a result, sales are forecast to grow 13.6 percent between 2018 and 2022, far faster than in the US or the UK. While there is strong potential for exports, the greatest opportunity for Ontario craft cider appears to be right here at home.

 

Author: Ashley Challinor

When Ashley isn’t drinking her way through Ontario’s cideries, she works in public policy.

By in Knowledge, News 0

The Best Ciders to Keep You Warm this Winter [2019]

Now that Christmas and the holidays are over, the allure of winter can dwindle. It becomes less of the magical winter wonderland with lights and powdery snow it was in November and December, and more of a grey, slush-fest of snow squalls and un-sholved sidewalks until hopefully only March (sometimes April though!).

We at The Cider Crate want to help keep you warm and cozy. Here are our recommendations for the best ciders you can get to drink for those frosty months you may not want to leave the house at all.

 

1) Heartwood Wassail [Erin, Ontario]

This is a beauty of a mulled cider that features a wide-selection of warming spices and even a bit of pepper. You can buy it at their woodsy retail store or at the Guelph Farmers Market. It is recommended you try it heated, cooked with a cinnamon stick and maple syrup (two things they even sell with the cider sometimes).

Heartwood – Wassail

 

2) 401 Cider Co – Apple Pie Cider [Colbourne, Ontario)

Want dessert in a glass? This cider does not disappoint with creamy dessert apples, a delicate vanilla and just enough cinnamon to remind you of the pie your grandma always makes.

401 Cider Company – Apple Pie Cider

3) Thornbury Spiced Cider [Thornbury, Ontario]

Enjoyable both cold and warm, this cider is well-balanced with cinnamon, cloves and more – amongst a medley of apple flavours. A very approachable cider for most cider fans.

Thornbury – Spiced Apple

 

 

4) Ernest Winter’s Blush Cider [Newmarket, Ontario]

Looking for an offering that is spiced but also has some warming fruits? Winter’s Blush is calling your name with a nice combination of cranberry and orange – with a perfect mix of mulled spiced mixed in there too. You may get flashbacks to that Holiday Party punch you may have had too many cups of though.

Ernest – Winter’s Blush

 

5) Bootleg Whisky Barrel Aged Cider [Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario]

If sweet treats warm you up, then look for this sweeter offering that features vanilla, light spices and a smooth whisky and apple base. If you like the taste of whiskies and smooth bourbons but don’t like the astringency of the straight spirits, this could tickle your fancy.

Bootleg Whisky Barrel Aged Cider

 

6) Kings Mill – Ice Cider

You can’t discuss winter drinking without some of the finest creations made during these cold months – Ice Ciders. Made similarly to ice wine, where the apples are picked after it is below zero, these tend to be slow sippers – with Kings Mill’s offering being no different. This version may be less thick and less astringent than other versions on the market, but is still has the depth of others; while also in our opinion, being more apple-forward in taste than most. Enjoy before or after a meal, or on its own. Great both on and off ice.

Kings Mill – Ice Cider