Thatchers keeps its focus firmly on quality with £14m investment in a new cider mill
Thatchers Cider is to invest £14m into a new cider mill at its Somerset farm. With a record number of apples expected to make their way through the presses at Myrtle Farm this autumn, Thatchers has just submitted a planning application that if consented will see a new state of the art mill installed in 2019.
“This investment is about our confidence in the cider market and in the future of world-class cidermaking here at Myrtle Farm,” says Martin Thatcher. “Our aim has always been to produce fantastic ciders at Thatchers that are best in class on both quality and consistency. Our existing mill has served us well for many years, but we’re now looking to increase our capacity to meet growing demand. The new mill will be located at Myrtle Farm, will use less energy and will be sustainably powered by energy generated on site.”
Thatchers regularly invests on average £10m a year into its cidermaking at Myrtle Farm – from new orchards through to bottling and canning. Over the last five years Thatchers has planted 150,000 new apple trees.
With apple cider taking the largest share of the off-trade cider category at 67%, Thatchers is proud to retain its focus on quality and innovation in apple and firmly believes there is further growth in the sector.
Martin continues, “There’s a lot of talk about fruit cider, but as I see it, there’s a raft of innovation and variety within the apple cider category, and this is where our focus lies. We have a wealth of knowledge of apples, and how different varieties work together to create new and exciting ciders – Thatchers Haze, for example, is now the no 1 cloudy cider in the off trade.
“Apple is so versatile that through innovation we can meet all taste profiles from dry through to medium and sweet, with this one traditional fruit.”
Thatchers has grown to become the number three apple brand in the UK by value in the off-trade with Thatchers Gold demonstrating phenomenal growth over recent years. In the off-trade it is seeing +28% volume growth and has grown to be no 2 apple cider in can, £7.4m greater in value than its next nearest rival. Thatchers is standing by its confidence in the cider’s apple heritage – borne out with an additional £18.7m in value added in the last year.
Martin concludes, “Consumers are moving from bottle to can, and as the market continues to premiumise, Gold will continue to seal its position as the fastest growing can cider. As fruit continues to bring more people into the category, we predict that these entrants will turn to apple variants as they become fatigued with flavour. Retailers consistently want a fewer number of quality brands.”