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Minimum pricing move on alcohol will double cost of farm ciders

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 29, 2012

Tim Edwards and Julian Temperley at The Somerset Cider Brandy Company, Burrow Hill

Tim Edwards and Julian Temperley at The Somerset Cider Brandy Company, Burrow Hill

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For Julian Temperley, the proposed minimum price for alcohol is an assault on not just cidermaking but the Westcountry, writes London Editor Graeme Demianyk.

The Somerset-based producer, credited with reviving the art of cider brandy production in Britain, is furious that little heed has been given to the impact of the Government's binge-drinking clampdown on farm-gate producers.

While ultra-cheap supermarket cider is "abhorrent", Mr Temperley says the 90-odd farmers in Somerset and Devon that make up the core of traditional cidermaking industry "should be regarded as the crown jewels of English food and drink". But, if alcohol cannot be sold for less than 45p a unit, the price of a gallon of the high-strength cider will double to £13.

"The market place will change," he said from Barrow Hill farm near Kingsbury Episcopi, Martock, Somerset. "The old boys won't put up with a 100% increase."

Farm producers could go out of business, he says. In turn, orchards that are as synonymous with the Westcountry countryside as vineyards are in the French Dordogne would also face ruin.

He said: "Cidermakers will be waking up to the full horror of it. They hoped it would go away. For the traditional cider maker it will be a disaster. It will more than double the cost. And people who buy it don't go off rioting. They drive here or come on their bicycle. The market will be destroyed, with that will go small orchards. With that will go a culture."

Even the big cidermakers who have outgrown their modest origins exploit cider making's back-to-nature techniques as a marketing device.

He said: "You could say that it's something that's not that special. But it will be something that is destroyed. And when it's gone people will say 'oh dear'. It can't be re-created. It will destroy the magic and mystique of the hillbilly cidermaker."

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