Business

Artisan producer invests £250,000 in new cider press

Greg MacNeice with an apple picker in his orchards in Co Armagh at the end of the season

PORTADOWN based artisan producer MacIvors Cider Co has invested a quarter-of-a-million pounds in a new press to take advantage of a booming craft drinks market.

The family-owned farm bought the new press from Germany and is also planting a new 10 acre heritage orchard.

Fifth generation apple grower Greg MacNeice said the investment in the new Flottweg cider press was essential for the development of the business which produces and sells its three craft cider varieties all over Ireland.

Mr MacNeice's family already manage 100 acres of apple orchards opposite the National Trust's Ardress House.

"There is a new generation of cider drinkers in Ireland and the market is booming. Times have changed so much and people are connecting with the land and it tastes good. There is a huge appreciation in the Irish market for our heritage, provenance and craft," said Mr MacNeice.

"This year alone, all of our ciders have received awards. We got a silver in Blas na hÉireann for our Traditional Dry and our Plum and Ginger. We have been voted best Artisan producer in Armagh, joint best in Ulster and joint best in Ireland. We have also picked up a Great Taste Awards for our Traditional Dry and Medium ciders and we got a silver medal at the Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards.

"The market is exploding and people in our cities, towns and villages, the length and breadth of Ireland, are enjoying our great tasting ciders. We are a key producer in the Irish market and our ciders will also soon be distributed in continental Europe and we continue to look towards the American market.

"To ensure that our production capacity keeps up with our sales growth, it is imperative that we continue to reinvest. For Mac Ivors Cider Co that means making this significant investment in state of the art machinery which complements the planting of a further 10 acres of orchard to satisfy a growing demand for heritage cider varieties."

Mr MacNeice said that after harvesting a great crop, it was time for the apple press to go to work pressing a huge variety of apples including Allington Pippins, Cox Orange Pippins, Laxton Fortune, Lord Lambourne, Elstar, Idared, Jonagored and Armagh Bramleys as part of the overall cider production.

"The Flottwegg belt press is a great addition to our process. Beautifully perfumed apples are being turned into great tasting cider and the team are delighted to have this facility on site in Co Armagh," he added.

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