TORONTO—With the craft movement taking hold coast to coast, the Canadian and Ontario governments are looking to help small Ontario cider makers scale-up and branch out.
The two tiers of government have announced a $220,000 investment in the Ontario Craft Cider Association (OCAA) to fund research on 29 different varieties of juice-producing apples. Aiming to ensure local growers can supply the fast-growing industry, the study will determine what regions of the Ontario are best-suited to growing which apples.
“The entire Ontario cider value-chain—from apple growers, to cider makers, to the end consumer—will benefit from an improved cider industry,” Judy Dirksen, chair of the Agricultural Adaptation Council, said.
Though still a fraction the size of Ontario’s beer making industry, craft cider sales have expanded rapidly across the province over the past five years. The industry segment’s sales at the LCBO, for instance, jumped 89 per cent between 2011 and 2015.
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With 19 craft cider makers currently producing the sweet, oft-warm-weather drink across Ontario, OCCA chair Thomas Wilson said the research project will help producers continue to churn out locally-sourced cider while making the industry more competitive.
The announcement comes as the province’s cideries celebrate craft cider week, running between May 27 to June 4.