There is no easy way to say it: We nearly didn’t open the cider house doors this year. As many of you know we’ve had some issues and problems this year and we made donors wait longer than expected to get back cider back into your hands... and bellies, some are still to collect. I also moved house and anyone that’s done that knows that it can consume you. We only just got in before pressing season started which is something I was desperate to avoid.
Joe and I have also been crunching the numbers and we've realised we need to change and adapt the project moving forward. Our goal at The Moss Cider Project is to exist for apple donors and we’re proud to be one of the nation’s few 100% donation based producers. Our goal was to try to get to the duty limit of 7000 litres per year and turn surplus to juice. After 5 years (6 pressing seasons) we finally did exactly that. To break it down our annual totals look like this:
Y1 - 2010 100 lts - fermented in my house, Moss Side.
Y2 - 2011 1000 lts - fermented at Firmstart, Hulme.
Y3 - 2012 600 lts - fermented at Firmstart, Hulme - That was a terrible year for apples nationally.
Y4 - 2013 5000 lts - moved into Windrush Millennium Centre, Moss Side
Y5 - 2014 6000 lts - fermented at Windrush - Started to use 1000 litre IBC containers.
Y7 - 2015 7000 lts - fermented at Windrush - All fermentation and maturation in 1000 litres IBC containers.
(NOTE ALL FIGURES ARE APPROX)
That’s now 6 years of embryonic growth and boy was that a lot of effort. You don’t necessarily hear or see all that goes on behind the scenes once your fruit is dropped off but we can say with certainty that the workload has increased massively in the last twelve months. With a few too many after midnight clean-downs and bottling runs.
Another aspect that many don’t know is that I have also been subsidised privately from various sources in order to keep the project going. But over the last year those subsidies have lapsed and we needed to find a way to make the maths work to keep the project going. No one likes change but we think we’ve come up with a favourable system that means we can keep pressing your fruit and make it worth your while. Especially for the true cider fans amongst you.
So far we've only charged you £0.50 on the bottle for 50% of your juice. This is our “at cost” price. That’s roughly the raw cost of the bottle, cap, label and box, give or take a few pence. What that doesn't cover is the admin time, rent, fees, insurances, utilities, maintenance, sundries and staff costs. All those extras have come out of our share plus we've had our own bottling costs too. Now we’re at 7000 litres a year it just doesn’t add up to continue with the fifty pence model. Moving forward we all need to contribute to these additional costs to keep the project afloat: we're in this together.
So here’s how it’ll work moving forward for all our donors, We call it 'THE 25% RULE’.
From 2016 onwards say you bring us 100kg of fruit.
We guarantee that we can extract 50 litres of the juice from these apples.
You get 25% of that 50 litres bottled for FREE on the same day (see below) so that's 12.5 litres or 25 bottles.
The next 25% is optional to buy at our wholesale price (£2 per bottle, no discount).
The remaining 50% (or more) is then available to purchase at RRP (£3.50) from our shop with with a hefty 25% discount. That includes all of our other stock including ciders from the likes of Hogan’s, Aspall, L’Atipique, Thistly Cross and more. Have a browse of what we have in stock if and when you come down.
The above example also works for our juice ranges too.
"Why do this?" we hear you cry.
Simple really. You’re going to get a more mature, bottle conditioned product and it means the long waiting time from dropping off is a thing of the past. It also saves us all the admin time post-pressing and allows us more time to generate income from the wholesale side of the business. Nothing beats walking into a pub, bar or restaurant and saying, “My apples went into that”.
We really hope this won’t come as too much of a shock. We still feel this is a very generous offer and service as most cider makers would likely only give you back a few bottles for your apples, if that. We've always thought of ourselves as a quasi-coop, doing good business with you, our community of donors, at its core. So please do get involved on pressing or bottling days and we’ll look forward to seeing you and your fruit this Autumn.
We’re still considering a custom label service, so if you’d like this option give us your details and we’ll add your custom labels to the next bottling run. Be aware though that you may be waiting until springtime to collect, but very likely a lot sooner. This is also subject to a different pricing structure and the free 25% offer does not apply.
If you have any other questions just visit our FAQs (CLICK HERE).