Ledbury’s MP has backed calls to futureproof the cider making industry.

Sir Bill Wiggin, the MP for North Herefordshire, attended a reception in Westminster hosted by the cider industry, highlighting the role the industry plays in the UK and in Herefordshire in particular.

Firms want to ensure that proposed changes to alcohol duty support the cider industry, which is facing unprecedented conditions, threatening centuries of rural tradition.

Cider has declined 44% in the last 12 years, with its share of the total alcohol market now standing at only 4.6%.

Sir Bill is calling on the Treasury to ensure that proposals encourage cider making, avoid increasing duty on the majority of ciders and encourage greater innovation through fairer treatment of fruit ciders.  

He said: “The cider industry plays a huge role in our heritage, culture and economy – whether it’s supporting livelihoods or simply being enjoyed in pubs up and down the country.

Ledbury Reporter: Sir Bill Wiggin has met with representatives of the cider industrySir Bill Wiggin has met with representatives of the cider industry

“The new alcohol duty system is set to be finalised shortly, and the Government must fulfil its promise to secure the future of this important industry. 

“Therefore, I’m joining calls for the Government to stick to its pledge to reduce the duty on apple cider which will support cider makers, farmers growing cider apples and publicans alike.  

“It’s vital that people show their support for this industry as every voice matters, so I urge constituents to learn more about the role cider plays in supporting communities like ours.”

Sir Bill said cider is integral to rural life in the UK and that without the industry, 16,500 acres of apple orchards and 35% of all UK-grown apples would be at risk, as would the communities that rely on them.

Every year some 500,000 tourists visit cider makers across the country - including Westons Cider in Much Marcle - against the backdrop of their stunning cider apple orchards, he added.