The last several years have seen a tremendous boost in the popularity and availability of Ontario craft ciders. Craft cider currently represents around 12 percent of cider sales in Ontario, so there is room for more growth.
The Ontario Craft Cider Association (OCCA) has accessed funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to launch a multi-faceted marketing campaign to help Ontario consumers have a better understanding of local craft cider and its unique qualities.
“A lot of people don’t know what craft cider means, so our biggest objective is to let them realize what makes Ontario craft cider so unique,” says OCCA Chair Richard Liu. “We use 100 percent Ontario apples and all of our ingredients and inputs are from the province. We’re proud of that and the role we play in agriculture in Ontario – and that’s what we want to highlight to get more people interested in Ontario craft cider.”
As part of the project, OCCA is ramping up its digital presence through increased social media efforts and a new website. A marquee event focusing on craft cider is being held in June – a month the organization is deeming Ontario Craft Cider Month – to highlight the quality and diversity of Ontario ciders. Promotional activities will be undertaken with the LCBO, bars, and restaurants to help raise awareness of local craft ciders.
The ultimate goal, according to Liu, is to raise craft cider’s market share by making consumers more aware that craft cider is a premium quality product produced by local cideries using local ingredients.
“We have deep integration with Ontario’s orchards: most of our members are small to medium sized family businesses, just like the apple growers are, and a significant number of our members are rural-based,” he says.
As a young association in an emerging industry, resources are limited so Liu and the OCCA value the financial support they’re receiving from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to help the craft cider industry continue to grow, and do so sustainably.
“We know that we needed to work on marketing but we haven’t been able to do it until now,” he says. “Having this funding is extremely critical to our growth in the province and helping us achieve that greater market share.
This project is funded in part through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of the Partnership in Ontario.