Cider fans fear EU move

16 November, 2007

An online group

of cider enthusiasts is calling for support against an EU working party it fears will end tax breaks for small cidermakers.

The European Commission working group is looking at the duty paid by small producers of alcohol across the Union as part of a brief to improve tax administration and co-operation between member states. That means it will also look at progressive beer duty, which has led to an explosion of microbrewing.

Website UK Cider has launched a petition to lobby the UK government to protect small cidermakers against any proposals the working party may make.

"We believe

craft cidermaking in the UK is under threat from a forthcoming EU review of the current exemption from excise duty enjoyed by cidermakers who produce less than 70hl annually," it said.

"The 70hl figure is calculated against the viability of small-scale cider production as a full-time occupation, so it is too small to be used as a tax loophole.

"These vocational home businesses often operate very close to their profitability threshold, and without the 70hl concession it is likely

many would cease to produce any volume of craft cider above that for personal consumption.

"Products from large-scale producers do not have the diversity of styles and flavours found in those of the small producers ."

But a spokesman for

Revenue & Customs said the EU working group has no power to take decisions or make proposals, although its research could be used by the

Commission to propose

laws.




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Talking terroir

When Bordeaux was in fashion, it seemed almost logical that we should fetishise winemakers. Here were people responsible for brilliant acts of blending, across large estates and multiple grape varieties, including superstars such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot. These days, fashion has moved on and pinot noir is ascendant. As a result, the star of the winemaker has fallen and we find ourselves following a new star in the sky: terroir.

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