Haling the cider boom

The humble apple is gaining a new lease on life as the popularity of cider continues to grow.

Hail storms need no longer mean devastation for fruit growers as there is an alternative, according to NSW Department of Primary Industries technical officer (scientific), David Pickering, who said this growing cider market was firming up the floor price for juice fruit.

While certain varieties of apples are specifically designed to make cider, traditional eating and cooking varieties could also be used, ensuring an extra market for apple producers.

But it was the true cider fruit of which Australia had a shortage, and Mr Pickering couldn’t understand why more growers weren’t jumping on board this rising market.

“It may just be they have the mindset that if you are growing fruit to go into juice only, then the returns are only so much, there is no incentive to grow fruit for juice,” he said.

“If they got a premium they’d probably go with it.

“But I would have thought they’d like being able to not have to rely on the supermarkets for prices.”

Mostly though it seems farmers were jumping in when they could and not growing specifically for cider.

If, for example, a Pink Lady apple grower got hit by a hail storm, that fruit could be sold into the juice and cider market.

“Hail doesn’t matter to a cider apple farmer,” Mr Pickering said.

It also provided options for farmers that may have ceased to grow the fruit because their district was hail prone – as cider apples needed the same growing conditions.

“It takes a fair bit of time to get up and running and you don’t know where the industry will be in three to four years and if you are going to put in proper cider apples it’ll take a while before you get there.

“But I can’t see it backsliding, it might reach a high level and slip back a bit, but it’ll maintain that, and that’s assuming it doesn’t just grow.

Source found here