An open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer : A proposition for British Heritage Drinks
Dear Mr Sunak,
No one knows better than you the unparalleled challenges that the country faces in the coming months and years and I wanted to bring to your attention a small point of difference that would add a huge amount of value to the British commercial proposition as we step into this new Brexit-free, post-pandemic world.
The British trait of self-deprecation has its drawbacks, and none more so than in the drinks industry. Whilst English wine has made great strides, it’s a small category which has to fight the much more established and well-known industries from Europe, Australia and the Americas on the same terms.
British cider on the other hand has the largest production and consumer market in the world of its kind with a massive British heritage. Indeed, the British invented the ‘Champagne method’ in terms of cider production well before Dom Perignon set sight on winemaking premises in northern France! And yet we have managed to conspire to lead a whole sector to be the lowest value creator of any alcoholic drink in almost every market around the world. So not a great British legacy!
Cider Is Wine proposes a shake-up, creating a new sector of British Heritage Alcoholic Drinks made from 100% juice (grape, apple, pear, or other fruits) and not from concentrate in order, with support from the government, to bring pride to a sector for outstanding British artisan drinks. The ‘100% juice, not-from-concentrate’ statement carefully expressed leads the market with a quality standard.
We’re suggesting a duty system that’s based on the current cider rates in order to encourage trade in an appropriate ‘less but better’ framework which encourages artisanship, quality and provenance-led products with a view to developing a sector that has the potential to become the most respected in the world. A situation that’s surely entirely appropriate for the markets we want to trade with.
Bottles of British-produced wines and ciders in every British diplomatic mission around the world can help soften the approaches of many other British businesses to much bigger export opportunities, becoming the envy and perceived leader that we strive to be seen as.
For the wine and cider industries it has different, but equally valuable outcomes.
For the wine industry, beneficial duty rates provide inward investment and development that can make a big difference.
For cider, it can provide much needed rejuvenation and reinvention to an industry that is no longer based on greater (unwanted) alcohol volume with almost nil value, and a commercial fillip and incentive to change what is currently a group of quaint, hobbyist-producers with few long term commercial interests.
The cost of this initiative in the context of government is tiny, yet the benefits to pride, passion and long term industry growth are incalculable. You only have to look to France to see the potential: over the last century we have been persuaded that wine is only made from grapes (according to the Cambridge English Dictionary this is not the case) and created an enviable sector developing wine into a global (sophisticated) phenomenon and, no doubt, much domestic pride, not to mention the stratospheric prices of the best wines appreciated across the world.
We can do the same for British Heritage Alcohol products with your help to realise the vision!
CEO, Cider Is Wine Ltd.
22nd February 2021