Sandford Orchards invests £1.2 million to aid expansion
Sandford Orchards has invested £1.2 million into expanding its bottling and canning capabilities and developing and implementing a new branding strategy.
The producer said it is now “well placed to meet an increased demand for real cider”, driven by a strong consumer interest in authenticity and quality.
Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker said: “Whilst other businesses have retrenched during the last twelve months we have taken the opportunity to press forward with our expansion plans buoyed by an ever-growing number of consumers who are looking for an antidote to the standard commercial cider brands.”
Barny explains: “At the end of 2019, we made the strategic decision to invest heavily in a full rebrand and we appointed award-winning branding agency Kingdom & Sparrow and market research agency Branding Express, who conducted focus groups across the UK. Blind tastings showed that consumers unanimously agreed that our cider tasted delicious, more natural and flavourful than mainstream alternatives.
"Our research also confirmed there was a great opportunity for us as our ciders are far higher quality than the cheap mass produced ciders available but more accessible than the pricey craft options. This gave us the confidence to continue to invest in 2020 with the implementation of the rebrand and an expansion of our packaging capability to include setting up our own canning line for the first time.”
He added: “At the beginning of the first lockdown our usual canning business became too busy to provide us with the capacity that we needed. We knew that canned cider offered us a huge potential market, as it is not well served by quality craft ciders, so we took the plunge and invested in our own in-house canning line which delivers 3,500 cans of cider per hour. In the same period, we also purchased brand new state of the art bottling machinery to allow us to meet the growing demand for our products and match our ambitious projections.
“This has tripled our bottling rate to an impressive 6,000 bottles an hour. Alongside this, we have also increased automation in our kegging line thus ensuring that we control the whole process from orchard to glass and have the ability to meet future demands.”
He continued: “We believe that we make the best tasting cider and we are proud to do it properly taking a fresh, natural, low impact approach and using the best apples in the world. With our new branding and expanded capacity, we are starting 2021 in a strong position to meet the needs of our fast-growing fan base as well as those consumers wanting to trade up to something more authentic and better tasting. We make simply great cider and we are optimistic that 2021 will be a simply great year for us.”
Founded in 2002, independent, family-owned Sandford Orchards is based in Mid Devon in the oldest working cider mill in the UK. Its range of ciders includes session ciders and a selection of flavoured ciders which will soon be joined by some brand new vintage ciders due to be launched in March.