RSS Feeds

Advanced search

You are in:


Shepton Mallet Cider Mill invest in orchards

Shepton Mallet Cider Mill has begun a £1m investment programme for new orchards and more sustainable production methods.
Paolo Mortarotti, general manager of the Shepton Mallet site, said: “This is enormously exciting for us – we are investing in sustainable fruit production for decades to come, with our experts supporting advances in orcharding practice to benefit our growers and the whole industry.
“As we gear up to grow and develop our business, both in the UK and internationally, the benefits from this investment will be vital.”
The Shepton Mallet Cider Mill, part of the C&C Group, dates back to the 18th century. As a major production facility the team of cider makers has over 2,000 years of expertise amongst them producing some of the UK's leading cider brands including Gaymers, Blackthorn & Addlestones.
Simon Baxter, chair of Norton Cider Growers Association, said: “The scheme presented signals that the team at the Shepton Mallet site are serious about adding significant new orchard areas and also delivering improvements at every stage – from the orchard to the cider mill. It will have a major and positive impact.”
Applications are being received from now until mid-December with growers and others having the opportunity to develop plans that they believe will deliver the greatest benefits.
A panel of experts will review all applications and release funding for approved plans from February 2013.
The scheme could fund new orchards totalling more than 500 acres, producing more than 10,000 tonnes of apples for the site in Shepton Mallet, already the largest cider mill in the region.
In addition to funding new orchards the scheme will provide investment for initiatives to enhance the sustainability of apple growing – already one of the most sustainable forms of enterprise. Examples might include plans to create ‘green’ biomass fuels from pruning material or pomace, or increased biodiversity to reduce the need for spraying – meaning a reduced environmental impact.
It is also intended that greater collaboration will improve the efficiency of operations and enable growers to benefit from better access to expert knowledge.
With the scale of the planting that will result from the fund there is the opportunity to transform the apple harvest for the largest producer in the region.
Bob Chaplin, orchard and fruit manager at the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill said: “With this level of investment we will deliver the quality of fruit that our master cider makers favour for our ciders.
“Importantly, with a focus on early season varieties, we can also extend the harvesting season and that benefits our growers as well as the operation at the site.”
Once all the applications to the fund are in they will be assessed by a judging panel including, Tessa Munt, MP for the Wells constituency that is home to the cider mill, Ben Thorne of the Farming and Wildlife Action Group (FWAG) and Rupert Cox chief executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce, along with experts from the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill.
It is expected that some approved plans might deliver results within months, others will take years of effort and expertise to secure the benefits intended. Typically a new orchard planted will take four or five years to deliver a meaningful crop and up to eight years to be fully productive.
Paolo Mortarotti added: “We are confident that with the participation and engagement of the growers and agricultural community the scheme will be a success.
“We intend to continue to support our supplier partners and make our industry even more sustainable.”

20 November 2012 - Felicity Murray