Heineken has said it remains committed to the cider category, after news outlets over the weekend reported the company had felled a near-300 acre orchard in Monmouthshire.

A spokesperson for Heineken said the company made clear its intention to sell Penrhos Farm, which is one of two company-owned apple farms, last November.

“Over a number of years, the cider market has slowed and the yield of apples per acre has increased leading to a huge surplus of apples,” the spokesperson said. “The bittersweet apples grown at the commercially farmed bush orchards at Penrhos have no other use than creating cider. In order to make best use of the land to grow other crops, the bush orchards had to be removed. All the wood is shredded for biomass and the bushes were removed in line with The Wildlife Act.” 

The spokesperson added that Heineken remains a cider, beer and pub company. 

“The cider market has declined over the last few years, but we are absolutely committed to investing in the cider category and returning it to growth,” the spokesperson said. “As the leading cider maker in the UK, over the last couple of years, we have invested millions of pounds into our cider brands, supported British agriculture and showcased the cider category. We continue to source all our apples from around 6,000 acres of orchards in and around Herefordshire and will continue to do so.”

According to NIQ, Heineken has a 27.8% share of the UK cider category. In the latest Buyers’ Guide to Cider, the company’s Strongbow Original and Strongbow Dark Fruit were the first and second largest brands in the off-trade.