Atlas participated in CiderCon 2015 last week. This is the sixth (we believe) annual conference for hard cider producers hosted by the United States Association of Cider Makers, this year in Chicago. It was a great event and gave us a chance to catch up with current cider customers as well as meet some of the up-and-coming new producers in the industry. We hosted a very basic presentation on starting a packaging program for new producers, and of course, we drank a lot of cider.
The rapid growth of the cider industry is staggering. Once again, the cider segment grew by more than 60%, year over year. Cider-specific bars are opening up around the country, and new producers are coming out with many new varieties, from quaff-able sunny day potables to fine dry ciders that pair with great food. Retailers are taking cider seriously as a category and producers look forward to continued growth alongside other craft beverage segments. The biggest challenge producers face is the regulatory landscape, because the Feds (TTB and FDA) still haven’t figured out how to categorize cider. Probably the second-biggest challenge they face is keeping up with growth, because, after all, it takes several years for new cider apple orchards to come into full production, and the public’s interest in cider is growing far faster than the trees.
Cheers to all our old friends, and our new friends, in the cider industry. We look forward to seeing you next year in Portland.