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History of Cider Making and the Industry Today

Cider - a fermented beverage produced from apples - and perry, an equivalent product from pears, have been made for centuries in countries across the world. Although the fermentation of fruit juice is recorded in ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman writings, historically, the main places in which cider and perry have been produced on any scale are England, France, Spain and other European countries. England is the largest cider making country in the world and also has the largest market for the product.

In the USA, cider was consumed widely in the 18th and 19th centuries after the early English settlers brought it into the country. It remained a popular drink until the early 20th century, when production almost ceased, but is now becoming re-established again. In Australia also, cider was brought into the country by early pioneers in the 19th century where, today, it remains a fashionable drink. More recently, South Africa has developed a significant market for the product, with the volume now being consumed second only to that in the UK.

Over the past 10 years or so, cider drinking and production has had a significant resurgence of interest across the world, particularly where apples are widely grown. The future potential and opportunities for growth are huge. To move forward, entrepreneurs and existing producers must continue to seek out, learn and exploit the best knowledge, experience, methods and technologies. They must also continue to engage with an existing and new marketplace and an increasingly discerning consumer. There are real opportunities for businesses to promote and take advantage of the relatively high value of cider and perry when compared to other long drinks - the products, when well made, are refreshing beverages of good flavour, general wide appeal, with benefits to health and, above all, made from two of the most elemental foodstuffs - apples and pears. Enjoy!

Industry Research & Development and the Establishment of Training

Most of the research work associated with cider production originated from the Long Ashton Research Station (LARS) near Bristol in the UK, where the National Fruit and Cider Institute was based from its opening in 1903. Cider related work at LARS ceased in 1986, however much of the success of the UK and world industry can be attributed to the research - much led by Dr. Fred Beech - carried out during the years of operation. Additional work has, and still is, carried out in France, at the INRA station near Rennes, and in universities and wine research institutes based in Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Also in the UK, specialist training in cider making, in addition to research work, was originally established at a centre at Hindlip College near Worcester in 1985. The programmes, initially developed and led over many years by Peter Mitchell - now Director of Mitchell F&D Limited - soon acquired a national and international reputation and standing.

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