UK trade body the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) has called on the government to freeze alcohol duty until at least 2025.

Speaking at the All-Party-Parliamentary Cider reception in London yesterday (5 September) David Sheppy, NACM chair, said the centuries-old industry is “struggling”.

It follows duty hikes last month and “penalising” reforms to the way alcoholic beverages are now classified.

Sheppy, also a sixth-generation cider maker and managing director at Sheppy’s Cider in Somerset, said: “The last few years have been tough for cider makers. The market has been struggling and at times it has really felt as though the government has lost focus on the valuable contribution that the traditions of cider-making bring to our rural economies.

“A 10.1% increase in excise duty, duty reforms that penalise our most traditional ciders, complicated systems that have been rushed through and increasing levels of red tape for both cider makers and farmers.

“The list is endless and personally I have been very frustrated and concerned that the finest, traditional ciders and family businesses are being negatively impacted.”

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He added: “Later this year the government begins the process of reviewing the definition of cider… In the past those responsible for excise duty made a point of coming to see us and learn more about the cider category – we appreciate that the last few years have made that more difficult, but all of us here tonight would like to see us to return to that level of interest in cider making.”

The UK cider industry is the largest in the world and worth approximately £2.95bn ($3.68bn).

The country has around 16,000 acres of cider-apple orchards and employs around 11,000 people.

Speaking to Just Drinks earlier in the year, Darryl Hinksman, head of business development at Westons Cider in Herefordshire, said the UK duty hike could be advantageous for fruit ciders, which are “less disadvantaged” than apple cider. “I think [the duty rise] will force people to look again at the fruit category,” he said.